Wednesday, April 4, 2007


John Constable (1776 – 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".

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows was painted by Constable in 1829, one year after his wife’s death. He later added nine lines from “The Seasons” by 18th Century poet James Thomson that reveal the painting's meaning: That the rainbow is a symbol of hope after a storm that follows on the death of the young Amelia in the arms of her lover Celadon. To paint this picture that was commissioned by the Bishop of the cathedral, Constable made four oil sketches as preparatory studies for the real painting which was planned to be big (151x180 cm). Those four sketches were offered on auction in 1981 in London : one of them went for £ 324,000 ($518,400).

Constable 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.

He died on the night of the 31st March, apparently from indigestion, and was buried with his dear wife Maria in the graveyard of St John-at-Hampstead, Hampstead (picture above).

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