A new exhibition at the newly refurbished Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven is The Critique of Reason: Romantic Art 1760-1860. It emphasises how science and art were close together during those times.
Turner’s Staffa: Fingal’s Cave (1831) has rough seas, big clouds and a smoking steamer moving towards the columnar basalt from the opening of the North Atlantic 55million years ago. Here is dark and light, the industrial and the natural, the revelation and the obscure, the possible and the foreboding of doom – all seen together.
Then there is John Constable’s Hampstead Heath with a Rainbow, 1836, with more city developments and nature.
Romance works with reason, art works with science. But the Enlightenment tended to favour the power of reason over the whims of romance. The exhibition shows they are all working together. Other pictures in the show such as George Stubb’s drawings confirm this: