The British landscape tradition is epitomized by two great 19th-century painters -- John Constable, with his country scenes under billowing whipped-cream clouds, and J.M.W. Turner with his chromatic ecstasies. Yet both men owe a great deal to a much less well-known British artist, Richard Wilson (ca. 1713-1782). In fact, Constable and Turner both owned works by him and hailed his art.
The case of the minor 18th-century portraitist who became the first major English landscape painter and revolutionized the approach of European masters to nature is one of those mysteries at the heart of art history that may never be explained.
Compared to the protean talents of Picasso, most 20th-century painters cannot hold their own, neither as innovators nor as imitators. The painter Max Beckmann (1884-1950), three years Picasso's junior, is no exception. Yet a wonderful show at Richard Feigen Gallery, "Beckmann-Picasso/Picasso-Beckmann," which pairs the two artists side by side, offers an instructive look into their relationship as painters and brings us works - some not so great, some masterpieces - we do not often get the chance to see.