House in the Trees at Hampstead, John Constable (1776-1837)
Oil on board, English School, 1821. John Constable was the son of wealthy miller in Bergholt, Suffolk. His family did not approve of his vocation as an artist but he joined the Royal Academy Schools as a student in 1799. From 1802 until around 1820 his paintings mostly featured the landscape of Suffolk, a number of which were made by sketching in oils, which had been popular among young English landscape artists since before 1800. Constable took this quick and direct method of painting and developed it into a tool of great range and refinement. The most famous example of work from this Suffolk-based phase is The Hay Wain (1821), which was in fact painted in the studio. Constable was elected to the Royal Academy in 1819 and from then onwards based himself in London and Hampstead. In 1829 he was made a full Academician and the last years of his life were spent consolidating his reputation as one of Britain's foremost landscape painters. House in the Trees at Hampstead is a study of trees made against the sky and it is one of several that the artist made shortly after he settled permanently in Hampstead with his family. It is unclear whether these sketches resulted in a finished work or whether he employed the tree and cloud studies in these sketches for a painting somewhere else.
Ruins in the East, Prosper Marilhat (1811-1847)
Oil on canvas, French School, 19th century. Oil on canvas, French School, 19th century. Born in Auvergne, central France in 1811, Prosper Marilhat was encouraged to paint from an early age, joining the studio of the French Romantic painter, Camille Roqueplan, in 1829. When he was twenty, after one of his paintings was shown at the Paris Salon of 1831, Marilhat was invited by the diplomat and botanist, Charles von Hugel, to join one of his expedition to the Middle East. As a result, Marilhat spent two years in Egypt, where he took numerous notes and sketches, building his reputation as an orientalist painter. Orientalism, is a term used to describe the 19th century romanticism of the East through painting, poetry and literature. The subject of this painting, Ruins in the East, is typical of the orientalist fantasy and nostalgia that often take the form of ruins. Marilhat's short career focussed on painting Islamic architecture, landscapes and portraits. In modern times, orientalism is seen more critically. In his book, Orientalism, published in 1978, the writer and critic Edward Said denounced orientalist expressions in Western art as demeaning and colonialist.
The 'Obby 'Oss, Padstow, Cornwall. Around 1920
The 'Obby 'Oss outside the London Inn. The 'Obby 'Oss is an integral part of the May Day celebrations in Padstow. Each year, on the 1st May, the town is decorated in greenery and the 'Oss (horse) parades the streets, followed by a 'teaser' who holds a padded bat. The procession is accompanied by accordions, drums and singing. The fearsome 'Oss wears a large mask and swirling skirts under which he tries to catch young maids.
© From the collection of the RIC