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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 07:56 GMT
V&A museum opens five galleries
Detail from Brighton Beach with Colliers by John Constable
The new galleries lean heavily on work by Constable
The Victoria and Albert Museum is displaying more than 200 pieces of art in five newly refurbished galleries that open on Wednesday.

The galleries include a full retrospective on the work of the British artist Constable, as well as other European artists.

One will house the collection of Constantine Alexander Ionides, a Greek collector of the Victorian era.

Other artists featured in the galleries include Turner, Blake and Gainsborough.

The museum said its Constable collection "will present every aspect of the working process of Constable, from sketchbooks to oil sketches to full-size works".

British landscapes

Oil paintings from the artist include views of Hampstead Heath, Brighton and Suffolk.

The refurbished, top-lit galleries were originally built in the 1850s to showcase works given to the museum by collectors. They were last used to exhibit paintings in the 1930s.

Take a panoramic tour of the Victoria and Albert museum

"Two galleries will focus on the image of landscape in Britain as interpreted by Constable, Turner and their contemporaries, featuring oil sketches and full-scale exhibition landscapes," the museum said.

They will also feature Gainsborough's "showbox" with backlit landscapes.

The fifth gallery will include paintings from the collection of Victorian art lover John Sheepshank, and will include works from Blake, Landseer and Millais.

The Ionides gallery will feature paintings by European masters such as Rossetti and Degas. Millais' Isabella (1848) is on loan to the museum from Liverpool until the end of January.

Oriental ceramics, a decorated piano and French sculptures will also be included.

The paintings will be hung in a "pictorial" common to 19th Century galleries.

Many of the paintings have been cleaned for Wednesday's unveilings.

The new painting galleries are part of the museum's 10-year plan to upgrade its collections.

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