Press Release

Constable to Delacroix: British Art and the French Romantics

Constable to Delacroix: British Art and the French Romantics: Press related to past exhibition.

Tate Britain  Linbury Galleries
5 February – 11 February 2003

Some of the great European painters of the nineteenth century are united in the major exhibition Constable to Delacroix  which opens at Tate Britain on 5 February. John Constable, Théodore Géricault, JMW Turner, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Richard Parkes Bonington and Eugène Delacroix are among the artists who feature in the exhibition which investigates artistic exchange between France and Britain during the period of High Romanticism, from around 1820 to 1840. This is the first time that an exhibition on this subject has been presented.

Constable to Delacroix places a particularly strong emphasis on the influence the British artists had on their French counterparts. Many French artists during this time were fascinated with English and Scottish culture, and this played a crucial role in the development of modern French art. The exhibition includes over one hundred oil paintings and watercolours, and will cover many genres including landscape, portraits and sporting art.

Affinities between the British and French schools in matters of theory, subject and technique are explored, and the exhibition focuses on the interrelations between a range of key artists, those above as well as David Wilkie, Thomas Lawrence, Paul Delaroche, Paul Huet, Camille Corot, Eugène Isabey, Horace Vernet and the French landscapists who comprised the School of 1830.

The exhibition analyses the key cultural events which influenced artists from both nations, such as the publication in Edinburgh of Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel, Ivanhoe, which had an immediate and profound impact on French literature and painting. It also features a section dedicated to Géricault’s painting Raft of the Medusa - one of the most dramatic and controversial paintings in art history. The Raft was shown in a highly successful 1820 exhibition in the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, London and its impact is recreated in a dramatic new space at Tate Britain which features a magnificent full scale copy of Géricault’s masterpiece, executed by French Academicians in 1859.

While the display of the Raft recreates for visitors the experience of a visit to a small, private exhibition involving one major work, there is also a recreation of a large public exhibition of the 1820s. This grand gallery of exhibition pictures comprises works that were shown at the Salon in Paris and the Royal Academy and British Institution in London, as well as influential examples of contemporary painting that were accessible to artists in distinguished private picture galleries like those of the Marquess of Stafford in England and the Duc d’Orleans in France. More detailed examinations of specific genres follow in a group of satellite galleries radiating from this central room.

Constable to Delacroix features loans from public and private collections around the world, including the National Gallery, London, the Musée du Louvre, Paris and the National Gallery of Art, Washington. The lead curator is Patrick Noon, the Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator of Paintings at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts who has worked with co-curators from Tate, Christine Riding and David Brown. The exhibition will tour to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts from 8 June to 7 September 2003, and then to the Metropolitan Museum, New York, from 7 October 2003 to 4 January 2004. A fully-illustrated catalogue is available.