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John Constable's Skies: A Fusion of Art and Science Paperback – 20 Sep 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University of Birmingham Press; First Edition edition (20 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1902459024
  • ISBN-13: 978-1902459028
  • Product Dimensions: 27.9 x 23.9 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,088,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

The landscape of Britain and western Europe is exposed to unpredictable weather because the whole region is a climatic battleground between the Atlantic and the continental interior of Russia. As a result, our view of the landscape is constantly changing as the atmospheric drama of the sky above alters light and "feeling". To John Constable the sky was "the keynote", the "standard of scale" and the "chief organ of sentiment" in landscape painting. This is why sky plays such an important part in Constable's pictures including those most famous representations of British landscape, such as The Hay Wain. The questions that John E. Thornes answers in John Constable's Skies include "How much meteorology did Constable understand?" and "Can Constable be considered as the greatest sky painter of all time?"

Compared with our grandparents, most of our lives today tend to be protected from exposure to weather and we are constantly surprised when it changes. We have lost the art and science of checking the sky for signals of its rapid mood swings. Anyone who has attempted to paint landscapes, farm the land or go fishing, would be immediately reminded by the sumptuous reproductions in this book of Constable's remarkable skill at depicting our fickle weather.

John E. Thornes is a professional academic meteorologist and explains in "userfriendly" language the science that we need to know in order to understand and appreciate the truth of Constable's skies. Although the book is rather academic in tone and presentation with appendices and notes, the writing is accessible to anyone interested in this fascinating interface between art and science, especially one that is so beautifully illustrated with so many (125) high quality colour reproductions. --Douglas Palmer

From the Publisher

John Constable is arguably the most accomplished painter of English skies and weather of all time. But how far did he understand the workings of the forces of nature which created his favourite cumulus clouds, portrayed in so many of his skies over the landscapes of Hampstead Heath, Salisbury and Suffolk? And were the skies he painted scientifically accurate? In this lucid and accessible study, John Thornes provides a meteorological framework for 'reading' the skies of landscape art, analyses Constable's own meteorological understanding, examines the development of his painted skies, and compares his skies to those produced by other artists from the middle ages to the nineteenth century.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Essential reading for all John Constable enthusiasts 4 July 2001
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Format: Paperback
John Constable is arguably one of the finest painters in the history of British art. John Constable's Skies: A Fusion Of Art And Science is an impressive compilation of his sky and weather paintings, against which John Thornes (Reader in Applied Meteorology and Director of the Atmospheric Impacts Research Group within the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham) provides an extensive and informative meteorological framework for reading "the skies of landscape art". Thornes analyses Constable's meteorological understanding and enhances our understanding and appreciation for what Constable was able to achieve with his art. John Constable's Skies is essential reading for all John Constable enthusiasts, and an important contribution to study of British art history.
John Constable's Skies 7 July 2010
By John HistoryGuy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Constable's art provides detailed infomation about the skies in and around Suffolk and the other counties he explored in his early years as a landscape painter in early 18th Century England. His sketches and notes record the weather,time of day, place and other data to describe each scene he would later paint in his studio in London or at home near Debham. This book is a wonderful collection of his best sketches, paintings, and works of other contemporaries of Constable to round out a very readable account of his observations. Although a bit pricey, a great book none the same.
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