Anarchy in the open air: Turner, Constable and pioneering landscapes

Generations of earlier landscape artists would envy Simon Faithfull, who a week ago sketched the skyline in Berlin on his tablet computer. He emailed drawings to his engraver in London, who laser-etched them on pieces of cherrywood and posted them to Warwickshire – where they have just been hung in a new exhibition of landscapes at Compton Verney.

Two centuries ago, when John Constable captured clouds scudding across Hampstead Heath, or JMW Turner raced to catch the last glow of sunset over the Thames, both had to lug heavy bags of oil paints, easels and prepared canvas with them. Their landscape sketches were made decades before the impressionists became famous for working directly from nature. The technique was seen as unusual, even anarchic, at a time when highly finished studio works were more valued.

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