In Which I wonder: Why Right, then Left?

A few months ago Abra and I had the opportunity to see a collection of John Constable’s large canvas landscape paintings at the national art gallery. I don’t know if the exibit is still there, but if it is and you have the opportunity to check it out, I recommend you do so. This is the first time this collection of Constable’s work has been shown outside the UK. I’m not a big fan of landscapes as a general rule, but these six foot canvases are undeniably impressive.

The collection was organized chronollogically, and I noticed something odd: Constable’s early paintings are, generally speaking, weighted right compositionally:

Boat Building Near Flatford Mill, 1815

Sometime in the early 1820’s, he switched to generally weighting them to the left:

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1829

I wonder if this is significant, or if Constable just got bored with the Right.

This entry was posted in Art.

2 comments on “In Which I wonder: Why Right, then Left?

  1. Hooser says:

    I wonder if he had any sort of political leanings that changed over his career.

  2. to my knowledge constable was always very conservative (usually the textbook contrast to jacques louis david’s neoclassical, radical republican propaganda).
    i was thinking the change might have had something to do with his wife’s death, but there was no plausible twisting of the evidence to be had for that particular post hoc. he also had some financial trouble around that time, but that’s not all that exciting.
    incidentally, i seem to remember reading an article a while back that says that when people look right (in a conversation) they are creating, whereas when they look left they are remembering. could probably come up with an entire erroneous theory based on that…

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