Monday, 15 February 2016

Big Suffolk Skies

I think I am becoming obsessed with Big Suffolk Skies; I can't help gazing at them, which is not so good when you are meant to be running and looking out where you are going.
Sometimes I just have to stop.
I am not the only one who was obsessed with them so was Sir Alfred Munnings. In his disastrous after-dinner speech at the Royal Academy in 1949* when he publicly attacked modern art he lamented that modern painters could not paint skies nor indeed trees.
In fact he was incensed that  artists could not paint trees saying  that he would kick Picasso in the behind: "For God's sake if you are going to paint a tree make it look like a tree!"
John Constable possibly one of the greatest sky painters ever produced, was also a huge admirer of the Suffolk sky. And so he should be having been born and raised a Suffolk boy. He is known principally for his beautiful landscape paintings of Dedham Vale not far from here.

Constable took his fascination for skies far beyond what was considered normal in his day and said that the sky was "the key note, the standard of scale, and the chief organ of sentiment" in a landscape painting.
He is known to have been influenced by the pioneering work of meteorologist Luke Howard on the classification of clouds; and his annotations of his own copy of Researches About Atmospheric Phaenomena by Thomas Forster show him to have been fully abreast of meteorological terminology.
"I have done a good deal of skying", Constable wrote to a friend in 1821; "I am determined to conquer all difficulties, and that most arduous one among the rest".
I think I must go  'a skying' now....

*Sir Alfred Munnings (1878–1959) publicly attacked modern art in a drunkenafter-dinner speech at the Royal Academy in 1949. He had been president of the RA for five years, pipping Augustus John to the post, but the controversy he stirred up (he called Picasso and Matisse ‘foolish daubers’) led to his resignation and a fall from grace from which neither he nor his reputation  ever recovered in his lifetime.


  1. I love skies and Constable was a master of them...

  2. It was so very nice to see your name on my blog - hello again!! I will add you to my reading list in hope that you will blog again.