Visual Encyclopedia

John Constable

John Constable, (/ˈkʌnstəbəl, ˈkɒn-/; 11 June 1776 – 31 March 1837) was an English landscape painter in the naturalistic tradition. 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".

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Works of art such as that of Constable become more than pictures; they are a part of one’s life and memories. One of his paintings, The Hay Wain (1821), is described by art historian H.W. Janson as, “Unlike so many fictitious eighteenth-century pastorals…, The Hay Wain speaks the authentic language of firsthand experience” (19-Century Art). Janson goes on to say, “Indeed, what we feel here belongs to that Romantic passion for nature as a metaphor for something true, pure, and simple…” In a letter to friend John Fisher, Constable wrote, “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…” (Art in Theory 1815-1900).

Contributed by Jenna Julien

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