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Self-portrait 1806, pencil on paper, Tate Gallery London. Constable drew this profile, his only indisputable self-portrait, by an arrangement of mirrors.[1]

John Constable (11 June 1776 – 31 March 1837) was an English Romantic painter. Born in Suffolk, he is known principally for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home—now known as "Constable Country"—which he invested with an intensity of affection. "I should paint my own places best", he wrote to his friend John Fisher in 1821, "painting is but another word for feeling".[2]

His most famous paintings include Dedham Vale of 1802 and The Hay Wain of 1821. Although his paintings are now among the most popular and valuable in British art, he was never financially successful and did not become a member of the establishment until he was elected to the Royal Academy at the age of 52. He sold more paintings in France than in his native England.

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Biography

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Early career

John Constable was born in East Bergholt, a village on the River Stour in Suffolk, to Golding and Ann Constable. His father was a wealthy corn merchant, owner of Flatford Mill in East Bergholt and, later, Dedham Mill. Golding Constable also owned his own small ship, The Telegraph, which he moored at Mistley on the Stour estuary and used to transport corn to London. Although Constable was his parents' second son, his older brother was mentally handicapped and so John was expected to succeed his father in the business, and after a brief period at a boarding school in Lavenham, he was enrolled in a day school in Dedham. Constable worked in the corn business after leaving school, but his younger brother Abram eventually took over the running of the mills.

In his youth, Constable embarked on amateur sketching trips in the surrounding Suffolk countryside that was to become the subject of a large proportion of his art. These scenes, in his own words, "made me a painter, and I am grateful"; "the sound of water escaping from mill dams etc., willows, old rotten planks, slimy posts, and brickwork, I love such things."[3] He was introduced to George Beaumont, a collector, who showed him his prized Hagar and the Angel by Claude Lorrain, which inspired Constable. Later, while visiting relatives in Middlesex, he was introduced to the professional artist John Thomas Smith, who advised him on painting but also urged him to remain in his father's business rather than take up art professionally.

Dedham Vale (1802)

In 1799, Constable persuaded his father to let him pursue art, and Golding even granted him a small allowance. Entering the Royal Academy Schools as a probationer, he attended life classes and anatomical dissections as well as studying and copying Old Masters. Among works that particularly inspired him during this period were paintings by Thomas Gainsborough, Claude Lorrain, Peter Paul Rubens, Annibale Carracci and Jacob van Ruisdael. He also read widely among poetry and sermons, and later proved a notably articulate artist. By 1803, he was exhibiting paintings at the Royal Academy.

In 1802 he refused the position of drawing master at Great Marlow Military College, a move which Benjamin West (then master of the RA) counselled would mean the end of his career. In that year, Constable wrote a letter to John Dunthorne in which he spelled out his determination to become a professional landscape painter:

For the last two years I have been running after pictures, and seeking the truth at second hand. I have not endeavoured to represent nature with the same elevation of mind with which I set out, but have rather tried to make my performances look like the work of other men…There is room enough for a natural painter. The great vice of the present day is bravura, an attempt to do something beyond the truth.[4]

His early style has many of the qualities associated with his mature work, including a freshness of light, colour and touch, and reveals the compositional influence of the Old Masters he had studied, notably of Claude Lorrain.[5] Constable's usual subjects, scenes of ordinary daily life, were unfashionable in an age that looked for more romantic visions of wild landscapes and ruins. He did, however, make occasional trips further afield. For example, in 1803 he spent almost a month aboard the East Indiaman ship Coutts as it visited south-east coastal ports, and in 1806 he undertook a two-month tour of the Lake District.[6] But he told his friend and biographer Charles Leslie that the solitude of the mountains oppressed his spirits; Leslie went on to write:

Wivenhoe Park (1816)
His nature was peculiarly social and could not feel satisfied with scenery, however grand in itself, that did not abound in human associations. He required villages, churches, farmhouses and cottages.[7]

In order to make ends meet, Constable took up portraiture, which he found dull work—though he executed many fine portraits. He also painted occasional religious pictures, but according to John Walker, "Constable's incapacity as a religious painter cannot be overstated."[8]

Constable adopted a routine of spending the winter in London and painting at East Bergholt in the summer. And in 1811 he first visited John Fisher and his family in Salisbury, a city whose cathedral and surrounding landscape were to inspire some of his greatest paintings.

Marriage and maturity

Maria Bicknell, painted by Constable in 1816

From 1809 onwards, his childhood friendship with Maria Bicknell developed into a deep, mutual love. But their engagement in 1816 was opposed by Maria's grandfather, Dr. Rhudde, rector of East Bergholt, who considered the Constables his social inferiors and threatened Maria with disinheritance.

Maria's father, Charles Bicknell, a solicitor, was reluctant to see Maria throw away this inheritance, and Maria herself pointed out that a penniless marriage would detract from any chances John had of making a career in painting.

Golding and Ann Constable, while approving the match, held out no prospect of supporting the marriage until Constable was financially secure; but they died in quick succession, and Constable inherited a fifth share in the family business.

Weymouth Bay (c. 1816)

John and Maria's marriage in October 1816 at St Martin-in-the-Fields (with Fisher officiating) was followed by time at Fisher's vicarage and a honeymoon tour of the south coast, where the sea at Weymouth and Brighton stimulated Constable to develop new techniques of brilliant colour and vivacious brushwork. At the same time, a greater emotional range began to register in his art.[9]

Although he had scraped an income from painting, it was not until 1819 that Constable sold his first important canvas, The White Horse, which led to a series of "six footers", as he called his large-scale paintings.

He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy that year, and in 1821 he showed The Hay Wain (a view from Flatford Mill) at the Academy's exhibition. Théodore Géricault saw it on a visit to London and was soon praising Constable in Paris, where a dealer, John Arrowsmith, bought four paintings, including The Hay Wain, which was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1824, winning a gold medal.

Of Constable's colour, Delacroix wrote in his journal: "What he says here about the green of his meadows can be applied to every tone".[10] Delacroix repainted the background of his 1824 Massacre de Scio after seeing the Constables at Arrowsmith's Gallery, which he said had done him a great deal of good.[11]

In his lifetime Constable was to sell only twenty paintings in England, but in France he sold more than twenty in just a few years. Despite this, he refused all invitations to travel internationally to promote his work, writing to Francis Darby: "I would rather be a poor man [in England] than a rich man abroad."[12]

In 1825, perhaps due partly to the worry of his wife's ill-health, the uncongeniality of living in Brighton ("Piccadilly by the Seaside"[13]), and the pressure of numerous outstanding commissions, he quarrelled with Arrowsmith and lost his French outlet.

After the birth of her seventh child in January 1828, Maria fell ill and died of tuberculosis that November at the age of forty-one. Intensely saddened, Constable wrote to his brother Golding, "hourly do I feel the loss of my departed Angel—God only knows how my children will be brought up…the face of the World is totally changed to me".[14]

Thereafter, he always dressed in black and was, according to Leslie, "a prey to melancholy and anxious thoughts". He cared for his seven children alone for the rest of his life.

The Hay Wain (1821)

Shortly before her death, Maria's father had died, leaving her £20,000. Constable speculated disastrously with this money, paying for the engraving of several mezzotints of some of his landscapes in preparation for a publication. He was hesitant and indecisive, nearly fell out with his engraver, and when the folios were published, could not interest enough subscribers. Constable collaborated closely with the talented mezzotinter David Lucas on some 40 prints after his landscapes, one of which went through 13 proof stages, corrected by Constable in pencil and paint. Constable said, "Lucas showed me to the public without my faults", but the venture was not a financial success.[15]

He was elected to the Royal Academy in February 1829, at the age of 52, and in 1831 was appointed Visitor at the Royal Academy, where he seems to have been popular with the students.

The Constable tomb

He also began to deliver public lectures on the history of landscape painting, which were attended by distinguished audiences. In a series of such lectures at the Royal Institution, Constable proposed a threefold thesis: firstly, landscape painting is scientific as well as poetic; secondly, the imagination cannot alone produce art to bear comparison with reality; and thirdly, no great painter was ever self-taught.

He also later spoke against the new Gothic Revival movement, which he considered mere "imitation".

In 1835, his last lecture to the students of the RA, in which he praised Raphael and called the R.A. the "cradle of British art", was "cheered most heartily".[16] He died on the night of the 31st March, apparently from indigestion, and was buried with Maria in the graveyard of St John-at-Hampstead, Hampstead. (His children John Charles Constable and Charles Golding Constable are also buried in this family tomb.)

Art

The Cornfield (1826)

Constable quietly rebelled against the artistic culture that taught artists to use their imagination to compose their pictures rather than nature itself. He told Leslie, "When I sit down to make a sketch from nature, the first thing I try to do is to forget that I have ever seen a picture".[17]

Although Constable produced paintings throughout his life for the "finished" picture market of patrons and R.A. exhibitions, constant refreshment in the form of on-the-spot studies was essential to his working method, and he never satisfied himself with following a formula. "The world is wide", he wrote, "no two days are alike, nor even two hours; neither were there ever two leaves of a tree alike since the creation of all the world; and the genuine productions of art, like those of nature, are all distinct from each other."[18]

Constable painted many full-scale preliminary sketches of his landscapes in order to test the composition in advance of finished pictures. These large sketches, with their free and vigorous brushwork, were revolutionary at the time, and they continue to interest artists, scholars and the general public. The oil sketches of The Leaping Horse and The Hay Wain, for example, convey a vigour and expressiveness missing from Constable's finished paintings of the same subjects. Possibly more than any other aspect of Constable's work, the oil sketches reveal him in retrospect to have been an avant-garde painter, one who demonstrated that landscape painting could be taken in a totally new direction.

Constable's watercolours were also remarkably free for their time: the almost mystical Stonehenge, 1835, with its double rainbow, is often considered to be one of the greatest watercolours ever painted.[18] When he exhibited it in 1836, Constable appended a text to the title: "The mysterious monument of Stonehenge, standing remote on a bare and boundless heath, as much unconnected with the events of past ages as it is with the uses of the present, carries you back beyond all historical records into the obscurity of a totally unknown period."[19]

In addition to the full-scale oil sketches, Constable completed numerous observational studies of landscapes and clouds, determined to become more scientific in his recording of atmospheric conditions. The power of his physical effects was sometimes apparent even in the full-scale paintings which he exhibited in London; The Chain Pier, 1827, for example, prompted a critic to write: "the atmosphere possesses a characteristic humidity about it, that almost imparts the wish for an umbrella".[2]

Seascape Study with Rain Cloud (c.1824)

The sketches themselves were the first ever done in oils directly from the subject in the open air. To convey the effects of light and movement, Constable used broken brushstrokes, often in small touches, which he scumbled over lighter passages, creating an impression of sparkling light enveloping the entire landscape. One of the most expressionistic and powerful of all his studies is Seascape Study with Rain Cloud, painted in around 1824 at Brighton, which captures with slashing dark brushstrokes the immediacy of an exploding cumulus shower at sea.[13] Constable also became interested in painting rainbow effects, for example in Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1831, and in Cottage at East Bergholt, 1833.

To the sky studies he added notes, often on the back of the sketches, of the prevailing weather conditions, direction of light, and time of day, believing that the sky was "the key note, the standard of scale, and the chief organ of sentiment" in a landscape painting.[20] In this habit he is known to have been influenced by the pioneering work of the meteorologist Luke Howard on the classification of clouds; Constable's annotations of his own copy of Researches About Atmospheric Phaenomena by Thomas Forster show him to have been fully abreast of meteorological terminology.[21] "I have done a good deal of skying", Constable wrote to Fisher on 23 October 1821; "I am determined to conquer all difficulties, and that most arduous one among the rest".[22]

Constable once wrote in a letter to Leslie, "My limited and abstracted art is to be found under every hedge, and in every lane, and therefore nobody thinks it worth picking up".[23] He could never have imagined how influential his honest techniques would turn out to be. Constable's art inspired not only contemporaries like Géricault and Delacroix, but the Barbizon School, and the French impressionists of the late nineteenth century.

Selected paintings

Salisbury Cathedral (c. 1825). As a gesture of appreciation for John Fisher, the Bishop of Salisbury, who commissioned this painting, Constable included the Bishop and his wife in the canvas. Their figures can be seen at the bottom left of the painting, behind the fence and under the shade of the trees.

Constable locations

Bridge Cottage is a National Trust property, open to the public. Nearby Flatford Mill and Willie Lott's cottage (the house visible in The Hay Wain) are used by the Field Studies Council for courses.

Notes

Bibliography

  • Bailey, Anthony (2007), John Constable: A Kingdom of His Own, London: Vintage, ISBN 9781844138333 .
  • Constable, Freda (1975), John Constable, Lavenham: Terence Dalton, ISBN 0900963549 .
  • Cormack, Malcolm (1986), Constable, Oxford: Phaidon, ISBN 0714823503 .
  • Fleming-Williams, Ian (1976), Constable: Landscape Watercolours & Drawings, London: Tate, ISBN 0905005104 .
  • Fleming-Williams, Ian; Parris, Leslie (1984), The Discovery of Constable, London: Hamish Hamilton, ISBN 0241112486 .
  • Fraser, John Lloyd (1976), John Constable: 1776–1837, Newton Abbot, UK: Readers Union, ISBN 0091255406 .
  • Gayford, Martin (2009), Constable in Love: Love, Landscape, Money and the Making of a Great Painter, Fig Tree .
  • Kelder, Diane (1980), The Great Book of French Impressionism, New York: Abbeville Press, ISBN 0896591514 .
  • Leslie, C. R. (1995), Mayne, Jonathan, ed., Memoirs of the Life of John Constable, London: Phaidon, ISBN 0714833606 .
  • Mayor, A. Hyatt (1980), Prints & People: A Social History of Printed Pictures, Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, ISBN 0691003262 .
  • Parkinson, Ronald (1998), John Constable: The Man and His Art, London: V&A, ISBN 185177243X .
  • Parris, Leslie; Fleming-Williams, Ian (1991), Constable, London: Tate, ISBN 1854370707 .
  • Parris, Leslie; Fleming-Williams, Ian (1982), Lionel Constable, London: Tate, ISBN 0905005384 .
  • Parris, Leslie; Fleming-Williams, Ian; Shields, Conal (1976), Constable: Paintings, Watercolours & Drawings, London: Tate Gallery, ISBN 0905005155 .
  • Pool, Phoebe (1964), John Constable, London: Blandford, OCLC 3365016 .
  • Reynolds, Graham (1976), Constable: The Natural Painter, St Albans, UK: Panther, ISBN 0586044019 .
  • Rosenthal, Michael (1987), Constable, London: Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0500202117 .
  • Rosenthal, Michael (1983), Constable: The Painter and His Landscape, New Haven, CT.: Yale University Press, ISBN 0300030142 .
  • Smart, Alastair; Brooks, Attfield (1976), Constable and His Country, London: Elek, ISBN 0236400118 .
  • Sunderland, John (1986), Constable, London: Phaidon, ISBN 9780714827544 .
  • Thornes, John E. (1999), John Constable's Skies, Birmingham: University of Birmingham Press, ISBN 1902459024 .
  • Walker, John (1979), Constable, London: Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0500091331 .
  • Vaughan, William (2002), John Constable, London: Tate, ISBN 1854374346 .

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Self-Portait (1806)

John Constable (1776-06-111837-03-31) was an English Romantic painter. Born in Suffolk, he is known principally for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home. He was one of the earliest painters who painted with oil en plein air; so he made a lot of fresh and direct oil-sketches of the English landscape.

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Sourced

Cottage at East Bergholt (1836)
  • Here I am quite alone amongst the Oaks and solitudes of Helmingham Park. I have taken quiet possession of the parsonage finding it quite empty. A woman comes up from the farm house (where I eat) and makes the bed; and I am left at liberty to wander were I please during the day. There are abundance of fine trees of all sort; through the place upon the whole affords good objects [rather] than fine scenery, but I can badly judge yet what I may have to shew You. I have made one of two... drawing that may be usefull. I shall not come home yet.
    • Letter to John Dunthorne on his drawing: 'Helmingham Dell,' 1800, as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 391
  • I paint by all the daylight we have and that is little enough, less perhaps than you have by much... imagine to yourself how a purl must look through a burnt glass.
    • Letter to John Dunthorne, 1801; as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 510
  • And however one's mind may be elevated, and kept us to what is excellent, by the works of the Great Masters — still Nature is the fountain's head, the source from whence all originally must spring — and should an artist continue his practice without referring to nature he must soon form a manner, & be reduced to the same deplorable situation as the French painter mentioned by Sir J. Reynolds, who told him that he had long ceased to look at nature for she only put him out.

    For the last two years I have been running after pictures, and seeking the truth at second hand. I have not endeavoured to represent nature with the same elevation of mind — but have neither endeavoured to make my performances look as if really executed by other men.

    I am come to a determination to make no idle visits this summer, nor to give up my time to common-place people. I shall return to Bergholt, where I shall make some laborious studies from nature — and I shall endeavour to get a pure and unaffected manner of representing the scenes that may employ me.

    • Letter to John Dunthorne (1802-05-29), from John Constable's Correspondence, ed. R.B. Beckett (Ipswich, Suffolk Records Society, 1962-1970), part 2, pp. 31-32
Weymouth Bay (1816)
  • There is room enough for a natural painture. The great vice of the present day is bravura, an attempt to do something beyond the truth. In endeavouring to do something better than well, they do what in reality is good for nothing. Fashion always had, & will have, its day — but truth (in all things) only will last, and can only have just claims on posterity.
    • Letter to John Dunthorne (1802-05-29), from John Constable's Correspondence, part 2, pp. 31-32
  • When I sit down to make a sketch from nature, the first thing I try to do is to forget that I have ever seen a picture.
    • As quoted in Richard Friedenthal, Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock (Thames and Hudson, London, 1963), p. 40
  • But You know Landscape is my mistress — 'tis to her that I look for fame — and all that the warmth of the imagination renders dear to Man.
    • Letter to his future wife, Maria Bicknell (1812-09-22), as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 23
  • I have been living a hermit-life, though always with my pencil in my hand... How much real delight have I had with the study of landscape this summer! Either I am myself improved in the art of seeing nature, which Sir Joshua call painting, or nature has unveiled her beauties to me less fastidiously. Perhaps there is something of both, so we will divide the compliment.
    • Letter to Rev. John Fisher (1812-07-22), as quoted in Richard Friedenthal, Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock (Thames and Hudson, London, 1963), p. 40
  • I have added some ploughmen to the landscape form the park pales which is a great help, but I must try and warm the picture a little more if I can... but I look to do a great deal better in future. I am determined to finish a small picture in the spot for every one I intend to make in future. But this I have always talked about but never yet done – I think however my mind is more settled and determined than ever on this point.
    • Letter to John Dunthorne (1814-02-14), as quoted in Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 151
  • I am going on very well with my pictures... the park (Wivenhoe Park) is the most forward — the great difficulty has been to get so much in as they wanted to make them acquainted with the scene — on my left is a grotto with some elms — at the head of a piece of water — in the centre is the house over a beautifull wood and very far to the right is a Deer House — what it was necessary to add. So that my view comprehended to many degrees — but to day I got over the difficulty and I begin to like it 'myself'... I live in the park and mrs Rebow says I am very unsociable.
    • Letter to his future wife, Maria Bicknell (1816-08-26), as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 119
Study of Clouds (1822)
  • I know very well what I am about, & that my skies have not been neglected, though they often failed in execution — and often, no doubt, from an over-anxiety about them — which will alone destroy that easy appearance which nature always has — in all her movements.
    • Letter to Rev. John Fisher (1821-10-23), from John Constable's Correspondence, part 6, pp. 76-78
The Leaping Horse, study (1825)
  • But the sound of water escaping from mill-dams, &c., willows, old rotten planks, slimy posts, and brickwork, I love such things. Shakespeare could make everything poetical; he tells us of poor Tom's haunts among "sheep cotes and mills." As long as I do paint, I shall never cease to paint such places. They have always been my delight.
    • Letter to Rev. John Fisher (1821-10-23), from John Constable's Correspondence, part 6, pp. 76-78
  • Still I should paint my own places best; painting is with me but another word for feeling, and I associate "my careless boyhood" with all that lies on the banks of the Stour; those scenes made me a painter, and I am grateful; that is, I had often thought of pictures of them before ever I touched a pencil, and your picture ['The White Horse'] is one of the strongest instance I can recollect of it.
    • Letter to Rev. John Fisher (1821-10-23), from John Constable's Correspondence, part 6, pp. 76-78
Dedham Mill (1820)
  • I am most anxious to get into my London painting-room, for I do not consider myself at work unless I am before a six-foot canvas. I have done a good deal of skying for I am determined to conquer all difficulties, and that among the rest.
    • Letter to Rev. John Fisher (1821-10-23), as quoted in Richard Friedenthal, Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock (Thames and Hudson, London, 1963), p. 41
  • That landscape painter who does not make his skies a very material part of his composition, neglects to avail himself of one of his greatest aids. Sir Joshua Reynolds speaking of the "Landscape" of Titian & Salvator & Claude says 'Even their skies seem to sympathise with the Subject.' I have often been advised to consider my sky as a 'hite Sheet thrown behind the Objects'. Certainly, if the sky is 'obtrusive,' (as mine are) it is bad, but if they are 'evaded' (as mine are not) it is worse, they must and always shall with me make an effectual part of the composition. It will be difficult to name a class of landscape in which the sky is not the 'key note,' the 'standard of Scale' and the chief 'Organ of sentiment.' You may conceive, then, what a "white sheet" would do for me, impressed as I am with these notions.
    • Letter to Rev. John Fisher (1821-10-23), as quoted in Richard Friedenthal, Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock (Thames and Hudson, London, 1963), p. 42
  • The sky is the 'source of light' in nature, and governs every thing. Even our common observations on the weather of every day, are suggested by them, but it does not occur to us. Their difficulty in painting both as to composition and execution is very great, because, with all their brilliancy and consequence, they ought not to come forward, or be hardly thought about in a picture... I know very well what I am about, and that my skies have not been neglected, though they have often failed in execution, no doubt, from an over-anxiety about them, which will alone destroy that easy appearance which nature always has in all her movements.
    • Letter to Rev. John Fisher (1821-10-23), as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 229 and also in Richard Friedenthal, Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock (Thames and Hudson, London, 1963), p. 42
  • This appearance of the Evening was... just after a very heavy rain — more rain in the night and very — [?light] wind which continued all the — day following while making – this sketch observed the Moon easing – very beautifully... [in the] due East over the — heavy clouds from which the late showers – had fallen.
    • Inscription: 12 September, 1821, written on the back of 'Hampstead Heath, Sun setting over Harrow,' sketch in oil on paper; as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London. 1993), p. 221
  • I have likewise made many 'skies' and effects — for I wish it could be said of me as Fuselli says of Rembrandt, 'he followed nature in her calmest abodes and could pluck a flower on every hedge — yet he was born to cast a steadfast eye on the bolder phenomena of nature'... We have had noble clouds & effects of light & dark & color.
    • Remark to Rev. John Fisher in 1821 on his oil-sketches of stormy weather, as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London 1993), p. 222
  • How sweet and beautifull is every place & I visit my old Haunts with renewed delight... nothing can exceed the beautiful green of the meadows which are beginning to fill with butter Cups — & various flowers — the birds are singing from morning trill night but most of all the Sky larks — How delightfull is the Country.
    • Letter to his wife, Maria (1821-04-20); as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 28
  • Sept. 6 th, 1822, looking S.E. — 12 to 1 o’clock, fresh and bright, between showers — much the look of rain all the morning, but very fine and grand all the afternoon and evening.
    • Inscription a the back of a cloud study (1822-09-06), as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 233
  • A sketch will not serve more than one state of mind & will not serve to drink at again & again — in a sketch there is nothing but the one state of mind — that which you were in at the time.
    • Letter to Rev. John Fisher (1823-11-02), from John Constable's Correspondence, ed. R.B. Beckett (Ipswich, Suffolk Records Society, 1962-1970), part 6, pp. 142-143
  • They [French critics of the Paris Salon of 1824, where his painting 'the Hay Wain' received a gold medal] are very amusing and acute — but very shallow and feeble. Thus one — after saying: "'it is but justice to admire the truth — 'the color' — and 'general vivacity' & richness —" – yet they want the objects more formed and defined &c, and say they are like the rich preludes in musick, and the full harmonious warblings of the Aeolian lyre, which means 'nothing,' and they call them orations — and harangues — and high-flown conversations affecting a careless ease — &c &v &c - Is not some of this 'blame' the highest 'praise' – what is poetry? – What is Coleridge's Ancient Mariner (the very best modern poem) but something like this?
    • Letter to Rev. John Fisher, 1824, as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable, (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 205
  • My picture [A Boat Passing a Lock, 1823-6] is liked at the [Royal] Academy, indeed it forms a decided feature and its light can not be put out. Because it is the light of nature — the Mother of all that is valuable in poetry — painting or anything else... my execution annoys most of them and all the scholastic ones – perhaps the scarifies I make for 'lightness' and 'brightness' is too much but these things are the essence of Landscape.
    • Letter to Rev. John Fisher, 1824, as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 288
  • Our little drawing Room commands a view unequalled in Europe — from Westminster Abbey to Gravesend — the dome of St Paul's in the Air — realizes Michael Angelo's Idea on seeing that of the Pantheon — 'I will build such a thing in the Sky.'
    • Letter to Rev. John Fisher (1827-08-26); as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 473
  • It is always my endeavour however in making a picture that it should be without a companion in the world. At least such should be a painters ambition.
    • Letter to a client, Mr Carpenter (1828-07-23), as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 291
  • I had on Friday a long visit from Mr. --- alone; but my pictures do not come into his rules of whims of the art, and he said I had "lost my way." I told him that I had, perhaps other notions of art than picture admirers have in general. I looked on pictures as 'things to be avoided,' connoisseurs looked on them as things to be 'mitated'; and that, too, with such a defence and humbleness of submission, amounting to a total prostration of mind and original feeling, as must serve only to fill the world with abortions... But he was very agreeable, and endured the visit, I trust, without the usual courtesies of life being violated. What a sad thing it is that his lovely art is 'so wrested to its own destruction!' Used only to blind our eyes, and to prevent us from seeing the sub shine — the fields bloom — the tree blossom — and from hearing the foliage rustle; while old — black — rubbed out and dirty canvases take the place of God's own works.
    • Letter to Rev. John Fisher (1833-04-02), as quoted in Richard Friedenthal, Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock (Thames and Hudson, London, 1963), p. 45
  • My friend Bonner has just set off to Charlotte Street to pack your picture (an old painting) and forward it; it is a beautiful representation of a summer’s evening; calm, warm and delicious; the colour on the man’s face is perfect sunshine. The liquid pencil of this school is replete with a beauty peculiar to itself. Nevertheless, I don’t believe they had any 'nostrums,' but plain linseed oil; 'honest linseed' as old Wilson called it. But it is always right to remember that the ordinary painters of that day used, as now, the same vehicle as their betters, and also that their works have all received the hardening and enamelling effects of time, so that we must not judge of originality by these signs always.
    • Letter to Rev. John Fisher (1833-12-20), as quoted in Richard Friedenthal, Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock (Thames and Hudson, London, 1963), pp. 45-46
Brighton Beach (1824)
  • I ought to respect myself for my friends' sake, and my children's. It is time, at fifty-six, to begin, at least, to know oneself, — and I do know what I am not, and your regard for me has at least awakened me to believe in the possibility that I may yet make some impression with my "light" — my "dews" — my "breezes" — my bloom and freshness, — no one of which qualities has yet been perfected on the canvas of any painter in the world.
    • Letter to C.R. Leslie (March 1833), from The Letters of John Constable, R.A. to C. R. Leslie, R.A. 1826-1837 (Constable & Co., 1931), p. 104
Hadleigh Castle, study (1829)
  • My canvas soothes me into forgetfulness of the scene of turmoil and folly — and worse — of the scene around me. Every gleam of sunshine is blighted to me in the art at least. Can it therefore be wondered at that I paint continual storms? "Tempest o'er tempest roll'd" — still the "darkness" is majestic.
    • Letter to C.R. Leslie (1834), John Constable's Correspondence, ed. R.B. Beckett, (Ipswich, Suffolk Records Society, 1962-1970), vol. 3, p. 122; also quoted in Hugh Honour, Romanticism (Westview Press, 1979, ISBN 0-064-30089-7), ch. 3, p. 91
  • I am anxious that the world should be inclined to look to painters for information about painting. I hope to show that ours is a regularly taught profession; that it is scientific as well as poetic; that imagination alone never did, and never can, produce works that are to stand by a comparison with realities.
The Cornfield (1826)
  • We see nothing truly till we understand it.
    • "The History of Landscape Painting," third lecture, Royal Institution (1836-06-09)
  • Painting is a science and should be pursued as an inquiry into the laws of nature. Why, then, may not a landscape be considered as a branch of natural philosophy, of which pictures are but experiments?
    • "The History of Landscape Painting," fourth lecture, Royal Institution (1836-06-16), from John Constable's Discourses, ed. R.B. Beckett, (Ipswich, Suffolk Records Society, 1970), p. 69.
  • The attempt to revive styles that have existed in former ages, may for a time appear to be successful, but experience may now surely teach us its impossibility. I might put on a suit of Claude Lorraine's clothes and walk into the street, and the many who knew Claude but slightly would pull off their hats to me, but I should at last meet with some one, more intimately acquainted with him, who would expose me to the contempt I merited.

    It is thus in all the fine arts. A new Gothic building, or a new missal, is in reality little less absurd than a new ruin.

    • Lecture, Literary and Scientific Institution, Hampstead, (1836-07-25), from notes taken by C.R. Leslie
Wivenhoe Park, Essex (1816)
  • The first impression and a natural one is, that the fine arts have risen or declined in proportion as patronage has been given to them or withdrawn, but it will be found that there has often been more money lavished on them in their worst periods than in their best, and that the highest honours have frequently been bestowed on artists whose names are scarcely now known.
    • Lecture, Literary and Scientific Institution, Hampstead, (1836-07-25), from notes taken by C.R. Leslie
  • The climax of absurdity to which the art may be carried, when led away from nature by fashion, may be best seen in the works of Boucher... His landscape, of which he was evidently fond, is pastoral; and such pastorality! the pastoral of the Opera house.
    • Notes of Six Lectures on Landscape Painting (1836), from C.R. Leslie, Memoirs of the Life of John Constable (1843), p. 343
  • He [the artist] ought to have 'these powerful organs of expression' — colour and chiaroscuro — entirely at his command, that he may use them in every possible form, as well as that he may do with the most perfect freedom; therefore, whether he wishes to make the subject of a joyous, solemn, or meditative character, by flinging over it the cheerful aspect which the sun bestows, by a proper disposition of shade, or by the appearances that beautify its arising or its setting, a true "General Effect" should never be lost sight of.
    • Text for the 'Old Sarum', print in 'English Landscape' 1835/36, as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 380
  • I am glad you encouraged me with the 'Stoke' [his painting 'Stoke-by-Nayland', circa 1835] What say you to a summer morning? July or August, at eight or nine o’clock, after a slight shower during the night, to enhance the dews in the shadowed part of the picture, under 'Hedge row elms and hillocks green.' Then the plough, cart, horse, gate, cows, donkey, &c. are all good paintable material for the foreground, and the size of the canvas sufficient to try one’s strength, and keep one at full collar.
    • Letter to William Purton (1836-02-06), as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 380
  • Many of my Hamptstead friends may remember this 'young lady' [an ash tree] at the entrance to the village. Her fate was distressing, for it is scarcely too much to say that she died of a broken heart. I made this drawing [Study of Trees, pencil on paper, circa 1821] when she was in full health and beauty; on passing some times afterwards, I saw, to my grief, that a wretched board had been nailed to her side, on which was written in large letters: 'All vagrants and beggars will be dealt with according to law.' The tree seemed to have felt the disgrace, for even then some of the top branches had withered. Two long spike nails had been driven far into her side. In another year one half became paralysed, and not long after the other shared the same fate, and this beautiful creature was cut down to a stump, just high enough to hold the board.
    • Lecture, given at Hamptstead (July 1836), as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Tate Gallery Publications, Constable, (London 1993), p. 391
  • My observations on clouds and skies are on scraps and bits of paper, and I have never yet put them together so as to form a lecture, which I shall do.. ..next summer. (1836)
    • Quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable, (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 37
  • We must bear in recollection that the sentiment of the picture is that of solemnity, not gaiety & nothing garish, but the contrary — yet it must be bright, clear, alive fresh, and all the front seen.
    • Letter to David Lucas (1836-02-15), on the mezzo print of the 'Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows'; as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 37
  • Only think that I am now writing in a room full of Claudes... almost of the summit of my earthly ambitions.
    • As quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 512
  • It is much to my advantage that several of my pictures should be seen together, as it displays to advantage their varieties of conception and also of execution, and what they gain by the mellowing hand of time which should never be forced or anticipated. Thus my pictures when first coming forth have a comparative harshness which at the time acts to my disadvantage.
    • Quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 516
  • Because he attempted to tell (his painting ['The Jewish Cemetery'] that which is outside the reach of art... there are ruins to indicate old age, a stream to signify the course of life, and rocks and precipices to shadow forth its dangers. But how are we to discover all this?
    • Quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 304
Seascape Study with Rain Clouds (1827)
  • The world is wide; no two days are alike, nor even two hours; neither were there ever two leaves of a tree alike since the creation of the world.
    • Quoted in C. R. Leslie, Memoirs of the Life of John Constable, Composed Chiefly of His Letters (1843) (Phaidon, London, 1951) p. 273
  • There is nothing ugly; I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may, — light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful.
    • Quoted in C. R. Leslie, Memoirs of the Life of John Constable, Composed Chiefly of His Letters (1843), (Phaidon, London, 1951), p. 280
    • Reply "to a lady who, looking at an engraving of a house, called it an ugly thing"
  • A self-taught painter is one taught by a very ignorant person.
    • Quoted in The Quarterly Review vol. 119 (1866), p. 292.
The Hay Wain (1821)
  • He seems to paint with tinted steam, so evanescent, and so airy.
    • Letter to his brother George, 1836, referring to J M W Turner

Unsourced

Stonehenge (1836)
  • Speaking to a lawyer about pictures is something like talking to a butcher about humanity.
  • The time of year when the devil comes and spews art over London.

About John Constable

The Admiral's House, Hampstead (1822)
  • Constable himself knew the value of such studies, for he rarely parted with them. He used to say of his studies and pictures that he had no objection to part with the corn, but not with the field that grew it.
    • Richard and Samuel Redgrave, A Century of Painters of the English School (1866), vol. II
  • Without any doubt the great works of Constable were done at the point when his desire to be a "natural" painter and his need to express his restless, passionate character overlap. Through his violence of feeling, concealed under a conventional exterior, he was able to revolutionise our own feelings about our surroundings. The conviction that open spaces and areas of rural scenery must be saved for the refreshment of our spirits owes more to Constable than to any other artist. While Turner, with greater gifts, was transforming the "beauty spots" of Europe, Constable was teaching us all to realise that our own countryside could be taken exactly as it is, and and yet become more precious to us.
    • Kenneth Clark, The Romantic Rebellion (Harper & Row, 1973, ISBN 06-10802-9), ch. 11: Constable (p. 283)

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JOHN CONSTABLE (1776-1837), English landscape painter, was born at East Bergholt in Suffolk on the 11th of June 1776.

His father was a man of some property, including water-mills at Dedham and Flatford, and two windmills, in which John, the second son, was set to work at the age of seventeen, after leaving Dedham grammar school. From boyhood he was devoted to painting, which he studied in his spare time in company with John Dunthorne, a local plumber and glazier. While working thus he made the acquaintance of Sir George Beaumont, a mediocre painter but a keen patron of the arts, and was inspired by the sight of Claude's " Hagar and Ishmael " and by some drawings of Girtin which Sir George possessed. His passion for art increasing, he was allowed by his father to visit London in 1795 to consult the landscape-painter Joseph Farington, R. A. (1747-1821), who recognized his originality and gave him some technical hints. He also made the acquaintance of the engraver J. T. Smith, who taught him etching, and corresponded with him during the next few years, which were spent partly in London and partly in Suffolk. In 1797 he was recalled to work in his father's counting-house at Bergholt, and it was not till February 1799 that he definitely adopted the profession of painting, and became a student at the Royal Academy. The few existing works of this period are heavy, clumsy and amateurish. Recognizing their faults, Constable worked hard at copying old masters " to acquire execution." The remedy was effective, for his sketches on a tour in Derbyshire in 180r show considerable freshness and accomplishment. In 1802 he exhibited at the Royal Academy, and was much helped and encouraged by the president, Benjamin West, who did him a further service by preventing him from accepting a drawing-mastership (offered by Archdeacon Fisher, of Salisbury), and thereby greatly stimulating his efforts. The manner of West appears strongly in the altarpiece painted by Constable for Brantham church in 1804, but Gainsborough, the Dutch masters and Girtin are the predominant influences upon his landscape, especially Girtin in the year 1805, and in 1806, when he visited the Lake District. From 1806 to 1809 Constable was frequently engaged in painting portraits or in copying portraits by Reynolds and Hoppner. The effect on his landscape was great. He learned how to construct an oil painting, and the efforts of the next few years were devoted to combining this knowledge with his innate love of the fresh colour of nature.

With the year 1811 began a critical period. He exhibited a large view of Dedham Vale, in which the characteristic features of his art appear for the first time almost fully developed, and he became attached to Miss Maria Bicknell. His suit was opposed by the lady's relatives, and Constable's apparently hopeless prospects drove him again to portrait-painting, in which he acquired considerable skill. It was not till the death of his father in 1816 that he was able to marry and settle in No. Keppel Street, Russell Square, where a succession of works now well known were painted: " Flatford Mill " (1817), " A Cottage in a Cornfield," and in 1819 " The White Horse," which was bought by his great friend Archdeacon Fisher for £105, as was the " Stratford Mill " of 1820. In 1819 two legacies each of £4000 diminished his domestic anxieties, and his talent was recognized by his election in November to the associateship of the Royal Academy. The series of important works was continued by " The Haywain " (1821), " A View on the Stour " (1822), " Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Garden" (1823), and " The Lock " (1824). This last year was a memorable one. " The Haywain " was sold to a Frenchman, was exhibited at the Louvre, and, after creating a profound sensation among French artists, was awarded a gold medal. In the following year " The White Horse " won a similar distinction at Lille. In 1825 he exhibited " The Leaping Horse " (perhaps his masterpiece), in 1826 "The Cornfield," in 1827 "The Marine Parade and Chain Pier, Brighton," and in 1828 " Dedham Vale." In 1822 Constable had taken Farington's house, 35 Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Squr re, but his wife's failing health made him turn his attention to Hampstead, and after temporary occupation first of 2 Lower Terrace and then of a house on Downshire Hill, he took No. 6 Well Walk, in 1827, letting the greater part of his London house. In 1828 his financial position was made secure by a legacy of £20,000 from Mr Bicknell, but the death of his wife towards the end of the year was a shock from which he never wholly recovered. His election to membership of the Academy in the following year did not lessen his distress: he felt that the honour had been delayed too long. His chief exhibit in 1829 was " Hadleigh Castle," and this was succeeded by the great " Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows " (1831), " The Opening of Waterloo Bridge " (1832), which had been begun in 18r7, " Englefield House " (1833), " The Valley Farm " (1835)," The Cenotaph " (1836), and" Arundel Mill and Castle" (1837). Constable had long suffered from rheumatism and nervous depression, but his sudden death on the 31st of March 1837 could be traced to no definite disease. He was buried in Hampstead churchyard, where his tomb may still be seen.

In May 1838 his remaining works were sold at auction, but fetched very small prices. Many were bought in by his children, and through their generosity have passed to the English nation, as the national collections at Trafalgar Square, Miliban_k and South Kensington testify. Nowhere else can Constable's art be studied completely or safely, since forgeries and imitations are common and have crept into the Louvre and other famous galleries. Much of the power of his work survives in the noble series of mezzotints made after his sketches by David Lucas, and first issued in 1833. Though a commercial failure at the time of publication, this English Landscape series is now deservedly prized, as are the other plates which Lucas engraved after Constable. Constable himself made a few desultory experiments in etching, but they are of no importance.

As already indicated, the mature art of Constable did not develop till after the year 1811, when he began to combine the fresh colour of nature, which he had learned to depict by working in the open air, with the art of making a picture, which he had learned from painting p ortraits and copying those of other masters. His development was unusually slow, and his finest work, with but few exceptions, was done between his fortieth and fiftieth years (1816-1826). During the last twelve years of his life his manner became more free, and the palette knife was constantly used to apply spots and splashes of pure colour, so that his technique often suggests that afterwards employed by the Impressionists. Yet his direct influence upon French landscape has sometimes been overrated. When Constable first exhibited at the Salon in 1825 Theodore Rousseau, the pioneer of French naturalism, was only twelve years old, and the movement of 1830 was really originated in France by Gros and Gericault, while in England the water-colour painters led the way. Constable's death in 1837 removed the man and most of his work from the public eye for another generation, and he became a famous shadow rather than a living force. So Monet and the Impressionists, when they sought after the secret of painting air and sunshine, looked to Turner rather than to Constable, and in England the eloquence of Ruskin pointed in the same direction.

Since the British nation came into the possession of a large portion of Constable's pictures and sketches, his work has been better understood. Though limited in range of subject to the scenery of Suffolk, Hampstead, Salisbury and Brighton, his sketches express the tone, colour, movement and atmosphere of the scenes represented with unrivalled force and truthfulness, and modern criticism tends to rate their spontaneity above the deliberate accomplishment of his large finished works. His treatment of skies is specially notable. Here his early experience as a miller told in his favour. No one has painted English cloud effects so truthfully, or used them as a compositional quantity with so much skill. Though in looking at nature he was determined to see with his own eyes and not with those of any former master, he found that the science of his predecessors was necessary to him before his sketches could be translated into large pictures. In these pictures his vivid tones and fresh colour are grafted upon the fdrmulae of Claude and Rubens, and it is a common error to regard Constable as an opponent of the great old masters. His pictures, like his writings and lectures, prove just the reverse. His dislike was reserved for the painters who took their ideas from other painters instead of getting them directly from nature.

Authorities. - Among older books see C. R. Leslie, Memoirs of the Life of John Constable, R. A. (London, znd ed. 1845, 3rd ed. 1896) (the classical work on the subject); and English Landscape Scenery, a Series of Forty Mezzotint Engravings on Steel, by David Lucas, from pictures painted by John Constable, R.A. (London, folio, 1855). The large work on Constable and his Influence on Landscape Painting, by C. J. Holmes (1902), contains the only chronological catalogue of Constable's paintings and sketches. Leslie's biography has been admirably rendered into French by M. Leon Bazalgette (Paris, H. Floury, 1905). (C. J. H.)


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Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|160px|A pencil sketch of himself]]

File:John Constable - The
The Lock at Dedham, a landscape by Constable.
File:Constable John - Moorwiesen bei
Peat grassland near Salisbury.

John Constable (East Bergholt, Suffolk, 11 June 1776 – London, 31 March 1837) was a famous English painter and artist. His family had plenty of money because his father owned a business running corn mills. Constable's father wanted his son to take over the business after him, but Constable started painting at an early age, and convinced his father to let him follow art as a career.

He married Maria Bicknell in 1816, and they had seven children. She died in 1829 of Tuberculosis.

His paintings are treasures of British art, but in his lifetime his work was appreciated more in France. Constable's most famous painting, The Hay Wain (now in the National Gallery in London), was first shown at the Paris Salon in 1824. He had to wait until he was 52 years old before the Royal Academy voted that he should be a member.

Constable was influenced by the French painter Claude Lorrain. His most famous paintings are landscapes showing the countryside around Dedham and Flatford, where his father's mills were.

His art

Constable's idea was to use nature itself, rather than imagination. He told Leslie, "When I sit down to make a sketch from nature, the first thing I try to do is to forget that I have ever seen a picture".[1]p51

Although Constable produced paintings throughout his life for the market of patrons and R.A. exhibitions, on-the-spot studies were essential. He never just followed a formula. "The world is wide", he wrote, "no two days are alike, nor even two hours; neither were there ever two leaves of a tree alike since the creation of all the world; and the genuine productions of art, like those of nature, are all distinct from each other".[2]p64

Constable painted many full-scale preliminary sketches of his landscapes in order to test the composition in advance of finished pictures. These large sketches, with their free and vigorous brushwork, were revolutionary at the time. The oil sketches of [[:File:|The Leaping Horse]] and The Hay Wain study convey a vigour missing from his finished paintings of the same subjects. Compare the composition of this preliminary study with the finished painting: The Hay Wain final. Possibly more than any other aspect of Constable's work, the oil sketches reveal him to be an avant-garde painter, one who showed that landscape painting could be taken in a totally new direction.

Constable's watercolours were also remarkably free for their time. The almost mystical Stonehenge, 1835, with its double rainbow, is often considered to be one of the greatest watercolours ever painted.[2] When he exhibited it in 1836, Constable appended a text to the title: "The mysterious monument of Stonehenge, standing remote on a bare and boundless heath, as much unconnected with the events of past ages as it is with the uses of the present, carries you back beyond all historical records into the obscurity of a totally unknown period".[2]p89

File:Constable Salisbury
Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows.

In addition to the full-scale oil sketches, Constable completed numerous studies of landscapes and clouds, to become more scientific in his recording of atmospheric conditions. The [[:File:|The Chain Pier, 1827]], for example, prompted a critic to write: "the atmosphere possesses a characteristic humidity about it, that almost imparts the wish for an umbrella".[2]p9

The sketches were the first ever done in oils directly from the subject in the open air. To convey the effects of light and movement, Constable used broken brushstrokes, often in small touches, which he worked over lighter passages. This gave an impression of sparkling light over the landscape. One of the most expressionistic and powerful of all his studies is Seascape Study with Rain Cloud, painted in around 1824 at Brighton, which captures with slashing dark brushstrokes an exploding shower at sea.[1]p128 Constable also became interested in painting rainbow effects, for example in Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1831, and in Cottage at East Bergholt, 1833.

To the sky studies he added notes, often on the back of the sketches, of the prevailing weather conditions, direction of light, and time of day, believing that the sky was "the key note, the standard of scale, and the chief organ of sentiment" in a landscape painting.[2]p110 In this habit he is known to have been influenced by the pioneering work of the meteorologist Luke Howard on the classification of clouds.[1]p68 "I have done a good deal of skying", Constable wrote to Fisher on 23 October 1821.[1]p56

Constable once wrote in a letter to Leslie, "My limited and abstracted art is to be found under every hedge, and in every lane, and therefore nobody thinks it worth picking up".[2]p129 He could never have imagined how influential his honest techniques would turn out to be. Constable's art inspired not only contemporaries like Géricault and Delacroix, but the Barbizon School, and the French impressionists of the late nineteenth century.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Thornes, John E. 1999. John Constable's skies. University of Birmingham Press. ISBN 1902459024
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Parkinson, Ronald 1998. John Constable: the man and his art. Victoria & Albert Museum, London. ISBN 185177243X

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