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Biography and information

John Constable, (born June 11, 1776, East Bergholt, Suffolk, England — died March 31, 1837, London), major figure in British Romantic landscape painting in the early 19th century. He is best known for his paintings of the English countryside, particularly those representing his native valley of the River Stour, an area that came to be known as ‘Constable country.’

Features of his art
In the period when landscape painting was the primary genre in British art, John Constable was unique in the constellation of landscape painters. He rarely chose the places popular with the public or other artists, but preferred to portray the views he had a deep personal attitude to. Besides, he was the only one of his colleagues who systematically painted oil studies en plein air.
In his landscapes, especially in the later ones, he was surprisingly accurate in representing natural phenomena, such as the fleeting and spectacular effects of the tempestuous sky. His pictures are a deep and long meditation on Britain’s rural life in the time of rapid social and economic changes.

Constable’s famous paintings include The Hay Wain, Wivenhoe Park, Essex, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, View of Highgate from Hampstead Heath, The White Horse.

A miller from the country
‘I associate “my careless boyhood” with all that lies on the banks of the Stour; those scenes made me a painter,’ he confessed in his letter to John Fisher, Bishop of Salisbury. The future artist grew up at the farm of his father, a millowner and corn merchant. Being a child, he started making amateurish sketches of countryside views in his native county of Suffolk. ‘… The sound of water escaping from mill-dams etc., willows, old rotten planks, slimy posts, and brickwork, I love such things,’ he wrote.
However, from the beginning, John was expected to succeed his father in the corn business. Although Constable was his parents’ second son, his older brother was intellectually disabled. After a brief period at a boarding school and in a day school, John was involved in the family enterprise. That accounts for his slow development as an artist: a self-taught fellow from the provinces, he only entered the Royal Academy of Arts at quite a considerable age of 23, on having his father’s reluctant approval. His younger brother Abram took over the running of the mills.
At that time, the subject considered to be the most appropriate for the Academy students was history painting. But from the very start, Constable was especially interested in the terrain. In the course of his studies, his major inspirations were the works by Thomas Gainsborough, Claude Lorrain, Peter Paul Rubens, Anniballe Carracci, and Jacob van Ruisdael.

The unfashionable everyday

In 1802, John Constable refused the position of drawing master at the newly formed Great Marlow Military College, a move which Benjamin West (then his professor at the Academy) counselled would mean the end of Constable’s career. Constable then 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… <…> The great vice of the present day is bravura, an attempt to do something beyond the truth.’ In the same year, the young master for the first time showed his work to the Royal Academy.
In the first half of the decade, Constable preferred watercolours and drawing. In these techniques, he made some beautiful pictures (1, 2, 3). But his usual subjects, scenes of ordinary daily life, were unfashionable in an age that looked for more romantic visions of wild landscapes and ruins. So the views of the ports on the south east coast and of the Lake District went unnoticed at the 1807 and 1808 exhibitions.
Constable’s own confession to his friend and biographer Charles Leslie was that the solitude of mountains oppressed his spirits. Later, Leslie wrote, ‘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.’
To make ends meet, Constable took up portraiture, which he found dull, though he executed many fine portraits (1, 2, 3). He also painted occasional religious pictures (1, 2, 3), but, according to an art critic, his ‘incapacity as a religious painter cannot be overstated.’

Victorious love
During one of his visits to his home village of East Bergholt, in 1809, the painter fell in love with young Maria Bicknell whom he had first met nine years before. But the Rev. Durand Rhudde, the girl’s grandfather and the pastor of the local churches, considered that Constable was not an eligible match for his granddaughter. He even threatened Maria with disinheritance if she married her social inferior. Maria had but to admit that a penniless marriage would detract from any chances he had of making a career in painting.
For the next seven years, the lovers were forced to meet in secret until the grandfather was mollified. The main reason, though, for his approval of the marriage was the fact that, after his parents’ death, Constable had inherited the fifth share of the family fortune.
For their honeymoon, forty-year-old Constable and his twenty-nine-year-old wife went on a tour of the south coast. There, the painter developed new techniques of brilliant colour and vivacious brushwork. At the same time, a greater emotional range began to be expressed in his art.

French triumph
In 1817, as the Constables had the first of their seven children, they took their residence in London. To maintain his family, the husband needed recognition as a professional artist. He got it two years later, when he exhibited at the Academy his first important canvas, The White Horse. It led to a series of ‘six footers’, as he called his large-scale paintings (each being 6 feet, or more than 1.8 metres wide).
In 1821, Constable showed The Hay Wain, which is a cult picture for the British people today. Critics were not enthusiastic about it, considering the painter’s rapid brushstrokes too casual. But Théodore Géricault saw it on a visit to London and praised Constable back in Paris to a dealer, John Arrowsmith. The latter bought four paintings, including The Hay Wain, — and got his money’s worth. The painting was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1824 and won a gold medal. Moreover, Delacroix was so impressed by the British artist’s ‘casual’ brushstroke that he repainted the background of his 1824 Massacre at Chios.
In his lifetime, Constable only sold 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.’

Departed Angel
After the birth of their seventh child in January 1828, Maria, who had long been ill, died of tuberculosis at the age of 41. Intensely saddened, Constable wrote, ‘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.’
Thereafter, he 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.
During Maria’s illness, the family moved to Hampstead on the outskirts of London. There, Constable started painting studies of the sky to precisely record well identifiable weather phenomena (1, 2, 3, 4). These studies later were included into his full-sized canvases.
By 1824, Constable’s paint surfaces were becoming increasingly fractured, communicating optical effects. These qualities, in addition to his vibrant, luminous use of colour, have led many, erroneously, to see his work as a precursor to Impressionism.

Alienation and depression
Later, Constable moved away from recording precise details of a certain locale — partly because he was sketching at a variety of places during this period —in Salisbury, and in the fashionable seaside resort of Brighton, where the family stayed for the sake of Maria’s health. But his abstracted locales and omission of any agricultural representation can be read another way. An economic depression after the Napoleonic Wars had led to agrarian riots, and yet Constable, a loyal Tory, chose to portray the abstracted, good old England that was untouched by the industrial and social changes surrounding him.
He became a Royal Academician in 1829, aged 52, a post that was much belated due in part to his difficult personality. Constable’s letters of the 1830s are suffused with an alienation and depression no doubt heightened by the critical attacks to which both he and his great contemporary J.M.W. Turner had been subjected in periodicals since the mid-1820s. Although the two masters were never close and had radically different approaches to landscape painting, Constable and Turner both espoused the grounding in tradition of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Such ties to tradition were increasingly seen as obsolete by a new generation of artists and critics who were forming their values in a rapidly developing, industrialized society.
Constable nonetheless stayed active. He inherited ₤ 20,000 after Maria’s death, and now he had an idea of publishing a series of prints (mezzotints) of some of his landscapes (1, 2, 3). But he was hesitant and indecisive, and it did a great disservice to him. Working on the forty prints turned out to be too long a process, one of them went through thirteen proof stages. As a result, when the folio was published, it could not interest enough subscribers. The whole venture was a financial failure.

Ode to the past
In 1836, Constable submitted his last Royal Academy entry, Cenotaph to the Memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Erected in the Grounds of Coleorton Hall, Leicestershire, by the Late Sir George Beaumont (a cenotaph is a symbolic tomb of someone whose remains are elsewhere). The work was a valediction to Reynolds, ‘the father of British art’, whom Constable revered. The painting served as an appropriate ode to the evaporating, traditional world in which Constable’s personal and artistic values had been formed.
He himself died on the night of 31 March 1837, apparently from gastric indigestion, and was buried with Maria in the graveyard of St John-at-Hampstead, Hampstead. Later, his children John Charles Constable and Charles Golding Constable were also buried in this family tomb. In 1888, the painter’s daughter Isabel donated her father’s works to the British nation.
Some of John Constable’s descendants living nowadays follow in the footsteps of their celebrated ancestor. The 47-year-old painter and sculptor Sasha Constable is living and working in Cambodia. In 2003, she displayed her works, along with those by her father, Richard Golding Constable.

John Constable achieved a reputation during his lifetime as a respected and significant landscape painter. Besides, in his biography published by Charles Leslie six years after Constable’s death, he is shown as a sincere and dedicated artist struggling against iniquity and incomprehension. In fact, it was Leslie’s loyalty to his friend that caused him to edit his correspondence and gloss over many of Constable’s less-appealing characteristics.
By the early 20th century, Constable’s oeuvre was reexamined. Scholars’ need to find British antecedents to Impressionism led to an overemphasis on his oil sketches. In the late 20th century, on the grounds of historical facts, this area of study was found to be contentious.
Some have tried to relocate Constable’s landscapes within their contemporary context and have suggested that they are complex works of art with, often, a deeply political content. Others have preferred to see them as embodying a quintessential ‘Englishness.’ The fact that the argument is ongoing confirms the continuing vitality of these landscapes.

John Constable
(John Constable 11 June 1776 in East Bergholt, Suffolk, England, the 31. March, 1837, London) – major British landscape painter of the romantic period. The famous images of the English provinces, and in particular of his home, the valley of the river Stour. This area is now known as the gendarme of the country (constable).

Features the art of John constable. In the time, where the landscape is a kind of dominant in the British art, John constable, and held a unique place in the constellation of the landscape. Usually, he chose the wrong place that was popular with the public or with other artists, and describes the species with which they felt a personal connection. In addition, he is the only one among his colleagues were widely practised, sketch, oil-open-air.

In his landscapes, particularly from the end of the time, the agent is surprising, exactly, is a natural phenomenon, transmitted to, for example, of the impermanence and of the dramatic effects of a stormy sky. His paintings and deep and prolonged meditation on the theme of rural life in Britain in the era of transformation, the socio-economic quickly.

Famous paintings of John constable. "Hay basket", "Wivenhoe Park", "Au cheval blanc", "The view of Salisbury Cathedral from Bishop's garden","A look Haget with Hampstead hill"

Miller of the province of

"I have a link with my childhood, with everything on the banks of Staura; these scenes have me a painter"– approved John constable in a letter to John Fisher, Bishop of Salisbury. The future artist grew up on the farm of his father, a Miller and merchant of corn and from the childhood Amateur drawings was rural types in his home, the County of Suffolk. "The water flowed under the wheel of the mill, pastures, old boards, rotting, covered in mucus, piles, walls – I like everything"he writes about it.

However, the boy was originally intended to do, but not colors-factory business. Well, he was the second son of his parents, his older brother was mentally handicapped. That is why, after a short training in the Board and at the end of the day, the youth will be assigned by the school of Jean, the family-owned company. This explains taught the slow development of creative: Royal Academy of arts, the province has with the reluctant consent of his father advanced age is 23 years. And the administration of his father's mills took on his younger brother Abram.

At an appropriate time, sub-reservation for the students of the Academy as a history of the painting. But the COP that showed since the beginning a special interest in the landscape and in the course of the study, was inspired by the work Thomas Gainsborough, Claude Lorrain, Peter Paul Rubens,Annibale Carracci and Jacob van rasdale.

Old-fashioned everyday life

In 1802, John constable refused the post of professor of drawing in the new Academy of the war. His mentor, Benjamin West, he looked at the end of the career of the artist. But it declared its determination to be a professional painter of landscapes: "In the last two years, I needed to search for the truth. I've tried to, in the nature of the flight, the thoughts, the had the intention, but rather trying to his execution similar to others... the greatest Vice of our time is the piece of bravery, the desire to create something, which is far from the truth". In the same year, the young champion has shown, first of all, his work at the Académie Royale.

In the first half of the decade, constable privileged watercolors, and graphics, they are doing a great job in this technicalA, Two, Three). But his usual themes, scenes from everyday life, were old-fashioned nature in a time romancing the pristine and picturesque ruins. But because the types of ports on the South-East coast, and the Lake districtA, Two they remained without the knowledge of the public for the exhibitions in the years 1807 and 1808.

The same police officer allowed his friend and biographer Charles Leslie that the size and the cold of the mountains oppressed spirit. He later wrote: "His social nature and can't be satisfied with the scenery, however, it may be, that in the human performance. It was demanded, villages, churches, farms and cottages".

You connect the two peaks, the policeman took the portrait, but find it boring, despite the fact that created beautiful picturesA, Two, Three). From time to time, he painted pictures with religious themes (A, Two, Three), but, as an art critic, "his consistency as a painter of religious must not be overestimated".

All-the conquest of love

The next time you visit in the mother tongue, of East Bergholt, in 1809, the painter fell in love with a boy Maria Bicknell he met with the nine years before. But the daughter of the grandfather, a local pastor Durand Rudd, as the gendarme, the unsuitable, to your granddaughter. And has even threatened to remove his heir, if she is the wife of a man, the bottom of the social scale. Maria was forced to recognize that marriage is, without a penny in the bag buried in the hopes of Jean's artistic career.

Lover continue to almost the next seven years of meeting secretly, until the heart of the grandfather radoucie. However, he gave his consent for the marriage, especially, because John, who inherited after the death of his parents, a fifth of their condition.

Wedding trip to 40 years ago, the policeman and his 29-year-old woman applied to the South coast. There, the artist has Elevator began to write, with bold colors and brush strokes in bold; at the same time, his work began to be a important emotionally.

German triumph

In 1817, with the birth of the first of his seven children, the couple, the police in London. To support the family of the artist, of professional recognition. And it came two years later, he's at the Royal Academy his first great canvas, "White horse". It starteda series of large paintings on the scale "six feet," as he called it, himself a painter, (width 6 feet (1.8 meters).

In the year 1821, the policeman has shown, "the cart of hay" – now that's a cult for the British. But then it was accepted without enthusiasm: energetic brushwork of the artist, critical care. But French Théodore Géricaultpraised the at the time was in London, back home the English of our colleagues in the antiquarian John Arrowsmith. He bought four paintings by constable, including the "wagon", and it has paid off: the exhibition in the Paris Salon of 1824, the painting won the gold medal. In addition,Eugene Delacroix under the impression of "sloppy" smear the British rewritten on the ground of his "Massacre of Chios".

During the life of the robbers, only 20 paintings in England, but sold in France, for over twenty in just a few years. Nevertheless, he refused to promote the tour abroad, and their work. "I would rather be a poor man [in England] ,a rich abroad"– he declared.

Left Angel

In January of 1828, shortly after the birth of her seventh child at the age of 41, the year of Maria, the COP who becomes ill for a long time, TB is dead. Inconsolable artist wrote: "Every hour, feeling the loss of my fit angel – God only knows how the education of my children... For me, the face of the world has changed completely". Since, according to the biographer of Charles Leslie, he dresses in black and has thoughts to a "victim of melancholy and anxiety". The children, also constable cared for the rest of their days.

Also during the illness of Marie, the family to a suburb of London and moved to Hampstead. There are robbers began writing sketches of the sky, the precise documentation of well-known weather - (A, Two, Three, Four). These sketches have become a part of the composition, and full-scale paintings.

In 1824, in his style to paint fine fragmentation, the artist is trying to convey, showed, visual effects. With the use of bright and vibrant colors, which many mistakenly call him a precursor of impressionism.

The alienation and depression

In the end the robbers are arrested, write to some places, due in part to the fact that studies in different regions: Salisbury, or to the elegant seaside resort of Brighton, where Mary was to try and improve health in General. But this abstraction and the rejection of the image of the labour force in agriculture can be interpreted in different ways. The economic depression after the Napoleonic wars, that brought agriculture to be in decline. In spite of this, the decided conservative constable, singing, abstract "good old England", not be affected by the change in the social and industrial.

A member of the Royal Academy of arts, the artist is later, in the year 1829, at the age of 52 years, in large part because of his character, is very difficult. His letters from the 1830s, the alienation complete, and depression. Such feelings, without a doubt, was driven by the criticism, there is a barrage of attacks on him andWilliam Turner from the mi-1820-ies. If these artists were never in the vicinity and have a different approach to painting the landscape, both grew up in the tradition of sir Joshua Reynolds. And the contempt deserves to be in the eyes of a new generation of artists and critics who have formed their own values, in the rapid development of the industrial society.

However, to work with the police officers. After the death of Marie 20 thousand pounds remained, and it was decided to create a series of etchings (mezzo-Tinto), on the basis of his paintings. However, the indecision and doubt, constant served him a bad service. Four dozen drawings drawn, one of them, the artist 13 times have been adjusted. As a result, when the collection was released with the name "landscape" in English, he was not interested in how many subscribers. The company suffered a financial collapse.

An ode to the past

In 1836, John constable, presented to the Academy a picture"Cenotaph in memory of sir Joshua Reynolds in the area of Coleorton hall, Leicestershire" (a Cenotaph – a symbolic tomb with the mortal remains). The work of the "father of British art", the revered painter, was dedicated. This painting is an ode to the outgoing, traditional world in which there is a personal and artistic value of the COP is formed.

He died in the night from 31. In March 1837, apparently, digestive disorders, and was buried next to Marie in the cemetery of Saint-Jean-sur-Hampstead. In the same family tomb, later died, and her two sons, Jean-Charles and Charles Golding COP. 1888, daughter of the artist, Isabelle has given the work of his father to the British nation.

Some descendants of John constable, the work of his famous ancestor. The 47-year-old artist, painter and sculptor Sasha robbers lives and works in Cambodia. In the year 2003, your work was, together with the paintings of his father, Richard Golding, of the gendarme.


John constable during his life, he has a reputation as a respected and important painters of landscapes. But in the biography, which, six years later, his death, and was edited by Charles Leslie, he also appears as a sincere and dedicated artist struggling with the lawlessness and confusion. In fact, the author was changed, in his correspondence, and conceals the less attractive the face are traits of his friend.

At the beginning of the XX century, the works of constable was overrated. In an attempt to have betrayed the British precursor of impressionism, the historian of art and value excessive of his sketches in oil. At the end of the last century, has been in this field of research as controversial, on the basis of historical facts.

Also some researchers who try to interpret the artist-landscapes in the context of their time and see as complex works of art, often with political implications. Others prefer to it as the epitome of a pure English style and life style. The fact that this is discussed further and confirmed the vitality of the landscape by John constable.

Author: Vlad Maslovym
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