Bio: John Constable

Special thanks to the Microsoft Corporation for permission to use following biographical information from Microsoft® Encarta '97:

John Constable was an English painter who was a master of landscape painting in the romantic style. His works, done directly from nature, influenced French painters of the Barbizon School and the impressionist movement.

Constable was born June 11, 1776, in East Bergholt, Suffolk. He worked in his father's flour mill before going to London in 1799 to study at the Royal Academy schools. He exhibited his first landscape paintings in 1802 and thereafter studied painting and English rural life on his own, developing a distinctly individual style. His paintings, executed entirely in the open air rather than in a studio, as was customary, were an innovation in English art.

Constable departed from the traditions of Dutch and English painting by discarding the usual brown underpainting and achieving more natural, luminous lighting effects through the use of broken bits of color applied with a palette knife. He endeavored to portray the effect of the scene, often softening physical details. He was fascinated by reflections in water and light on clouds. Although he lived in London, he painted the country around the Stour River in Suffolk and in Salisbury and Dorset. For many years Constable received little recognition or support in England. In France, however, where his famous Hay Wain (1821, National Gallery, London) was shown by a French dealer at the Paris Salon of 1824, he was much admired by the romantic painter Eugene Delacroix, by the Barbizon painters, who began to paint outdoors, and by the impressionists, who painted the effects of light. He became a member of the Royal Academy in 1829. Constable died in London, March 31, 1837.

Among Constable's works are The Cornfield (1826) and Valley Farm (1835), both in the National Gallery, London, and Wivenhoe Park, Essex (1816, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). Many small oil sketches are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, where they did much to increase his reputation in England. All five of Constable's children were painters as well, and some works formerly attributed to Constable are now known to be the work of his son Lionel.

Home Page Online Since 1996
Back to Constable Alphabetical
Featured Artists