Hadleigh Castle (Progress Proof b)

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While Constable’s oil paintings sought to simultaneously infuse the landscape with symbolic resonance and stay true to the integrity of the scene being depicted, Constable and Lucas’s English Landscape mezzotints explore completely new possibilities for the symbolic manipulation of landscape. Embracing Constable’s artistic philosophy that there were two kinds of artists, “the imitator or the eclectic who gains ready acceptance by retailing the familiar, and the innovator who adds to art ‘qualities of Nature unknown to it before’” (L. Parris and I. Flemming-Williams, Constable 319), Constable and David Lucas reproduced many of Constable’s earlier paintings using the engraving technique of mezzotint, a method that allowed them to play with the tonal range of a given landscape. This technique also embraced Constable’s concept of chiaroscuro (or the contrast between light and dark) as the only means of defining artistic space and depicting the reality of nature on the canvas. In this particular print, the environs of the ruin are completely devoid of life (a marked contrast from the original painting which features two shepherds and several animals), replacing figures with an overwhelming darkness that changes the entire mood of the composition.