Art: The Wordsworth of Landscape

At the Metropolitan, a retrospective of Constable's Arcadia

John Constable (1776-1837) remains the great example of the Englishness of English art. In his work even God is an Englishman. What other deity could have created those ripe interfolding fields, that mildly blowing air, that dewy sparkle on the face of a static world? Constable did to the perception of landscape in paint what William Wordsworth did to it in verse: he threw out the allegorical fauna that had infested it since Milton and the rococo—nymphs, satyrs, dryads, Vergilian shepherds and Ovidian spring deities—and substituted...

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