Brian Sewell: A little trim can go a long way

Brian Sewell, the broadcaster and art critic, on why Constable took a knife to his painting.

Constable took pains to work to a final solution, and his final solution could have been that the bloody thing was too wide. The impact can be entirely beneficial. It depends on how the artist views it. What happened, in some cases, was that Constable's things were painted right to the edge.

If you make the minutest adjustments to the edge of a composition, you can tighten it and make it look better. It's like cutting an inch off your hair. It's a bit tidier. If you have 95 per cent perfection and there's some kind of imbalance that can be remedied by chopping off a few inches, then why not? I cannot imagine anything sillier than being beholden to the size of a canvas.

Brian Sewell was talking to Megan Waitkoff