Art: When God Was an Englishman

Englishmen both, Joseph Mallord William Turner and John Constable were the supreme landscapists of the early 19th century: Turner with his vortexes of air and toppling seas, Constable with his images of the domestic countryside, "a branch of natural philosophy, of which my pictures are but the experiments." Both lived through the Industrial Revolution and experienced the strains it exerted on the fabric of English society. Both stood on the threshold of the modern world. But Turner's delight in extremity, the catastrophic sublime rising from a deep instinctive pessimism, makes him appear a...

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