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HISTORY

Sarah Cove ACR at Flatford Mill, on the banks of the River Stour, Suffolk, with Willy Lott's cottage behind, 1987

 

In 1986 the Constable Research Project was established at the Victoria & Albert Museum by Sarah Cove in collaboration with the Courtauld Institute of Art and a private sponsor. The project aims to give insight into the painter's materials, techniques and innovations to further the field of technical art history and as an aid to art historical scholarship and interpretation.


Initially based on the Constable collection at the V&A, London, and a significant number of works from private collections, the project rapidly expanded to include a range of additional oils c.1799-1837 that filled gaps in the chronology. These ranged from tiny oil sketches on paper and board to the "six-footers", from UK and international galleries and collections. To date over 200 paintings, two of Constable's paint boxes, some used brushes and one of his palettes have been examined and analysed. 

In addition, Sarah has carried out substantial contextual research into the painting methods and materials of Constable's predecessors and contemporaries using documentary sources and artists' handbooks and manuals. She works closely with institutions, conservation colleagues and independent scholars specialising in 19th c. British art, notably former Tate Constable curator, Anne Lyles. She regularly assists galleries, salerooms, dealers and private collectors with cataloguing and questions of attribution.

Sarah has contributed numerous publications on Constable's materials, techniques and painting practice to the fields of conservation and art history. In 2016, to celebrate 30 years of Constable scholarship, she presented a paper outlining the history, methodology and main findings of her research at the Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation, Copenhagen (CATS III). This can be found as a free download here, pages 94-108.

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© Sarah Cove ACR 2020