Comparing John Constable's Painting The Cornfield and William Wordsworth's Poem Tintern Abbey

Comparing John Constable's Painting The Cornfield and William Wordsworth's Poem Tintern Abbey

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Representations of Time: Wordsworth and Constable

I do not know how without being culpably particular I can give my Reader a more exact notion of the style in which I wished these poems to be written, than by informing him that I have at all times endeavored to look steadily at my subject; consequently, I hope that there is in these Poems little falsehood of description, and my ideas are expressed in language fitted to their respective importance. Something I must have gained by this practice, as it is friendly to one property of all good poetry, namely, good sense; but it has necessarily cut me off from a large portion of phrases and figures of speech which from father to son have long been regarded as the common inheritance of Poets.

-- William Wordsworth, from the Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800, 1802)

It appears to me that pictures have been over-valued; held up by a blind admiration as ideal things, and almost as standards by which nature is to be judged rather than the reverse; and this false estimate has been sanctioned by the extravagant epithets that have been applied to painters, and "the divine," "the inspired," and so forth. Yet in reality, what are the most sublime productions of the pencil but selections of some of the forms of nature, and copies of a few of her evanescent effects, and this is the result, not of inspiration, but of long and patient study, under the instruction of much good sense…

…Painting is a science, and should be pursued as an inquiry into the laws of nature. Why, then, may not landscape be considered as a branch of natural philosophy, of which pictures are but experiments?

-- John Constable, from a lecture at the Royal Institution (June 16, 1836)

The styles of John...


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...licity and consequently may be more accurately contemplated and more forcibly communicated."

Bibliography

Goldwater, Robert and Marco Treves (eds.). Artists on Art: from the XIV to the XX Century. New York: Pantheon Books, 1945.

Heffernan, James A. W. The Re-Creation of Landscape: A Study of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Constable, and Turner. Hanover: UP of New England, 1985.

Helsinger, Elizabeth K. Rural Scenes and National Representation: Britain, 1815-1850. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1997.

Kroeber, Karl. Romantic Landscape Vision: Constable and Wordsworth. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1975.

Paulson, Ronald. Literary Landscape: Turner and Constable. New Haven: Yale UP, 1982.

Wolfson, Susan and Peter Manning (eds.). The Longman Anthology of British Literature: The Romantics and Their Contemporaries. Volume 2A. New York: Longman, 1999.

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