A unique exhibition presenting a new perspective, and showcasing over 30 original artworks

‘I live by shadows, to me shadows are realities’, wrote John Constable. If he’d had a motto, it was the Latin phrase that appears within his print publication, English Landscape Scenery, ‘Ut umbra sic vita’ - ‘Life is as a shadow’. As an artist, Constable has a reputation for being a painter of traditional ‘chocolate box’ English scenery; safe, unchallenging and sentimental. But, there was a darker side to the Suffolk master.  

This unique exhibition explores Constable’s on-going obsession with the ‘chiaroscuro’ of nature – the contrast between light and dark and the way he placed that at the heart of his exploration of landscape. It was through the interplay of light and shadow that Constable believed he could capture the movement, vitality and variety of the natural world, and also, importantly, to convey and evoke emotion. Constable was always an emotional artist and the exhibition examines some of his personal and human ‘chiaroscuro’: the challenges and tragedies present within his private life, his love for his wife and children, his professional struggles, his periodic battles with anxiety and depression, and the way the intensity of his feelings coloured and informed his work.  

The exhibition has been specially curated for The Arc by art historian Nicola Moorby and will include examples of Constable’s work across a range of media – oil, watercolour, pencil and ink – as well as an in-depth look at mezzotint, a technique reliant on the emergence of light from dark.  

The exhibition is being drawn from a small number of institutions; Gainsborough’s House, the Royal Academy, Tate and the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Ticket Offer:

Your ticket entitles you to unlimited admittance to Constable: The Dark Side, subject to availability.

You may be asked to show ID on return.

Enjoy 10% off all food and drink at The Arc café. Just show your ticket with your purchase.

In this film, leading art historian, broadcaster and author Andrew Graham-Dixon discusses the life and art of John Constable. Enjoy a taste of some of the works in a short tour of some of the works in our fascinating exhibition.

Filmed and edited by Giving Back Films

See the full version of the film on the membership website: andrewgrahamdixon.com

Andrew Graham-Dixon talks to Kirsty Rodda - Gallery Manager at The Arc, Winchester.

Filmed and edited by Giving Back Films.

See the full version of the film on the membership website: andrewgrahamdixon.com

Constable: The Dark Side related events


Join curator and art historian Nicola Moorby for an inspiring talk about the 'Constable: The Dark Side' exhibition, along with insights the life and works of the artist. 

Thursday 10 August 2023, 7:00pm-8:00pm, Exhibition open from 6:00pm


Join curator and art historian Nicola Moorby for an absorbing tour of the highlights of the exhibition

Friday 11 August 2023, 45 minute tours at 10:00am, 11:30am, 1:00pm and 2:15pm

Image credits 1. (above image) Rainstorm over the Sea, ca. 1824-1828, John Constable © Royal Academy of Arts, London; photographer: John Hammond. 2. (banner and below image) Weymouth Bay, John Constable, 1816 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 3. (second image) Salisbury Cathedral, David Lucas after John Constable, 1837 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 

Rainstorm over the seaSalibury cathedral


  • Weymouth Bay, John Constable

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