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John Constable

John Constable

(1776 - 1837)
Born: East Bergholt, England
Style: Romanticism
Famous Works:
  • Dedham Lock and Mill (1820)
  • Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (1831)
  • Cottage in a Cornfield (1833)
John Constable's landscape paintings are glowing hymns to his beloved English countryside, and represent the best of the Romantic expression. While Constable took to sketching the countryside around his home at an early age, he would not have the opportunity to pursue art seriously until his twenties. In 1799, Constable managed to secure his father's blessing, and quit the family corn business in order to focus on his art. After spending several years at the Royal Academy in London, Constable set out to paint the countryside. He preferred to paint outdoors to capture the essence of the sky, light, and air. His favorite subject was the English countryside, but not the countryside alone. Many of Constable's works possess a spirit of synergy between the countryside and the people who call it home. The artist was less inspired when painting landscapes that did not possess human associations, and not particularly fond of portraiture either. These tastes are testament to Constable's desire, rooted in his childhood, to capture the relationship between people and their environment. In 1824 the arch-bishop of Salisbury commissioned a portrait of the church there. For the next several years Constable devoted himself to the challenge, creating numerous variations in oil of the same scene. From canvas to canvas minute details in composition, foliage, and atmosphere changed, lending subtle, but important shifts in mood from each one to the next. The skies in Constables paintings are often the keynotes to the works. Here Constable injected turbulent, calm, or foreboding elements to convey powerful emotions. Constable enjoyed short-lived success at the end of his life, and always enjoyed more commercial success in France than in England. Constable's desire to paint from nature, rather than imagination, was a departure from the popular style of his day. He could not have known what a tremendous influence his work would have on future artists, including French landscape painters such as Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet.
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