In this beautifully considered exhibition, explore the inventive ways artists in the 18th and 19th centuries recorded fleeting moments in nature, capturing the effects of light, drama, and atmosphere first-hand in the open air.
Featuring more than 100 oil sketches by artists including John Constable, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Louise-Joséphine Sarazin de Belmont and André Giroux, the thrill of these painters’ encounters with nature is palpable in their highly skilled, rapidly painted sketches. We see with their eyes and feel their wonder as they witness storm-torn skies, limpid rockpools, the dappled shade of a tree canopy or the awe-inspiring sight of an erupting volcano.
Some studied landscapes that were close to their homes and their hearts, while others made arduous journeys to paint breathtaking sites ‘in the field’, from the Baltic coast and Swiss Alps to the ruins of Rome.
Through beautiful projections of the cellular structure of trees, and mineral, rock and botanical specimens, the exhibition also highlights developments in the natural sciences, each seeking, like painters of the time, to reveal ‘truths’ about the world we inhabit.
In the exhibition, scientists, conservationists, ecologists, writers and children reflect on some of the artworks and objects on display, inviting us to see today’s world differently, too