Romanticist landscape painters rejected the rationalism of Eighteenth-Century Enlightenment thinking to return to wild and uncontrollable nature. They sought the simultaneous sensations of awe and terror, compounded into an idea known as 'the sublime'.
The aesthetic of this movement was expressed by the French philosopher, Diderot, who claimed that ‘all that stuns the soul, all that imprints a feeling of terror, leads to the sublime’. This notion was communicated by painters such as Constable and Turner into vast skies, windswept elements, and dramatic natural landscapes.
In this selection, our artists take us on a journey across the British Isles and Ireland, from the South Downs to the Outer Hebrides, across Ireland’s rocky coastline, and England’s rural countryside. A sense of awe and wonderment permeates paintings by Rachel Arif, Annie Boisseau, and David Scott Moore, who present ethereal light cascading across landscapes dominated by sky. In pleasing contrast, the humbling magnitude of nature is reinforced in Kenny McKendry’s rocky coastlines, and Sarah Spencer’s brooding stormy beach.
This is a group of artists who bring the history of art into their painting. There are elements of Constable’s light and colour in Hannah Mooney’s small gem-like paintings, and references to Turner’s concatenation of elements in Annie Boisseau and Rachel Arif’s canvases.
The works in this collection affirm Charles Baudelaire’s definition of the romantic: ‘Romanticism is precisely situated neither in a choice of subject nor in an exact truth, but in a way of feeling'.