Arkhip Kuindzhi’s moonlit pools of light, intense sunsets, and forests at high noon marked a significant break from the Russian Realist school, which was conservative by most modern standards and was seeped in literary thought and ideology. Kuindzi’s work is, therefore, more compatible with other Western movements, because his landscapes explore aspects of painting that were not tied to any social or political commentary. However, unlike his contemporaries the Impressionists, he depicts light with finite brushstrokes and treats it as a concrete entity. The contrasts of light and shadow speak for themselves and become as palpable as the surrounding mountains or still waters.
Constable’s Edge of a Heath by Moonlight doesn’t use the same meticulous brushstrokes he applied to his signature views of the English countryside, but captures the indistinct forms of moonlit haze. Throughout his career, he sought to portray atmosphere in its purest form through an almost scientific precision in regard to technique and observation. Nonetheless, there is that certain quality to his work that transcends representation, as he himself comments that “my limited and abstracted art is to be found under every hedge, and in every lane, and therefore nobody thinks it worth picking up.”