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  • Russ Ramsey

Getting to know John Constable

For this Art Wednesday we’ll get to know the great English Romantic landscape painter John Constable. He focused largely on the landscapes around his him in the Dedham Vale of Suffolk, now known as “Constable Country.”

Constable, Wivenhoe Park, Essex, 1816


Though Constable is now revered in England, he struggled to earn a living with his art. He sold more of his work in France than in his own home country.

Constable, Chain Pier, Brighton, 1826–27


Constable showed an interest in drawing at a young age, and persuaded his father to let him pursue art as a career. He developed a style and touch all his own, revolutionizing landscape painting.

Constable, Seascape Study with Rain Cloud, 1827


The Vale of Dedham remains one of Constable’s most popular works, with its thick application of paint and touches of white to emphasize sunlight. This work helped him gain admittance to the Royal Academy of Arts.

Constable, The Vale of Dedham, 1828


Constable had a routine of spending his winters in London and his summers in the village of East Bergholt in Suffolk. He took up portraiture to help make ends meet, which bored him, though he was good at it.

Constable, Hadleigh Castle, 1829


Constable tried his hand at religious painting too—another commercially popular genre—but he struggled. John Walker said, “Constable’s incapacity as a religious painter cannot be overstated.”

Constable, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1831


Constable’s success in other countries outpaced his success in England, but he refused the idea of traveling abroad to promote his work, saying, “I would rather be a poor man in England than a rich man abroad.”

Constable, The Hay Wain, 1821


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