We see nothing truly until we understand it.

Biography of John Constable

Born: 11 June 1776
East Bergholt, Suffolk, East Anglia, England
Died: 31 March 1837 (aged 60)
Hampstead, London, England
Nationality English
Known for: Landscape painting
Notable work: Dedham Vale (1802); The Hay Wain (1821)
Movement: Romanticism

Constable Biography

Constable Paintings for Sale >>


John Constable biography

The copyright of scripts in this website is owned by Toperfect. Toperfect reserves the manual scripts of original version. Toperfect will take appropriate legal action in the piracy and infringements of copyright.

The Importance of Constable

John Constable, RA (/ˈkʌnstəbəlˌ ˈkɒn-/; 11 June 1776 – 31 March 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".

His most famous paintings include Wivenhoe Park of 1816,Dedham Vale of 1802 and The Hay Wain of 1821. Although his paintings are now among the most popular and valuable in British art, Constable was never financially successful. He did not become a member of the establishment until he was elected to the Royal Academy at the age of 52. His work was embraced in France, where he sold more works than in his native England and inspired the Barbizon school.

paintings of John Constable

Early life

John Constable was born in East Bergholt, a village on the River Stour in Suffolk, to Golding and Ann (Watts) Constable. His father was a wealthy corn merchant, owner of Flatford Mill in East Bergholt and, later, Dedham Mill in Essex. Golding Constable owned a small ship, The Telegraph, which he moored at Mistley on the Stour estuary, and used to transport corn to London. He was a cousin of the London tea merchant, Abram Newman. Although Constable was his parents' second son, his older brother was intellectually disabled and John was expected to succeed his father in the business. After a brief period at a boarding school in Lavenham, he was enrolled in a day school in Dedham. Constable worked in the corn business after leaving school, but his younger brother Abram eventually took over the running of the mills.

In his youth, Constable embarked on amateur sketching trips in the surrounding Suffolk and Essex countryside, which was to become the subject of a large proportion of his art. These scenes, in his own words, "made me a painter, and I am grateful"; "the sound of water escaping from mill dams etc., willows, old rotten planks, slimy posts, and brickwork, I love such things." He was introduced to George Beaumont, a collector, who showed him his prized Hagar and the Angel by Claude Lorrain, which inspired Constable. Later, while visiting relatives in Middlesex, he was introduced to the professional artist John Thomas Smith, who advised him on painting but also urged him to remain in his father's business rather than take up art professionally.

In 1799, Constable persuaded his father to let him pursue a career in art, and Golding granted him a small allowance. Entering the Royal Academy Schools as a probationer, he attended life classes and anatomical dissections, and studied and copied old masters. Among works that particularly inspired him during this period were paintings by Thomas Gainsborough, Claude Lorrain, Peter Paul Rubens, Annibale Carracci and Jacob van Ruisdael. He also read widely among poetry and sermons, and later proved a notably articulate artist. By 1803, he was exhibiting paintings at the Royal Academy.

Personal life

From 1809, his childhood friendship with Maria Elizabeth Bicknell developed into a deep, mutual love. Their marriage in 1816 when Constable was 40 was opposed by Maria's grandfather, Dr Rhudde, rector of East Bergholt. He considered the Constables his social inferiors and threatened Maria with disinheritance. Maria's father, Charles Bicknell, solicitor to King George IV and the Admiralty, was reluctant to see Maria throw away her inheritance. Maria pointed out to John that a penniless marriage would detract from any chances he had of making a career in painting. Golding and Ann Constable, while approving the match, held out no prospect of supporting the marriage until Constable was financially secure. After they died in quick succession, Constable inherited a fifth share in the family business.

John and Maria's marriage in October 1816 at St Martin-in-the-Fields (with Fisher officiating) was followed by time at Fisher's vicarage and a honeymoon tour of the south coast. The sea at Weymouth and Brighton stimulated Constable to develop new techniques of brilliant colour and vivacious brushwork. At the same time, a greater emotional range began to be expressed in his art.

In his lifetime, Constable sold only 20 paintings in England, but in France he sold more than 20 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." In 1825, perhaps due partly to the worry of his wife's ill-health, the uncongeniality of living in Brighton ("Piccadilly by the Seaside"), and the pressure of numerous outstanding commissions, he quarrelled with Arrowsmith and lost his French outlet.


In 1835, his last lecture to students of the Royal Academy, in which he praised Raphael and called the Academy the "cradle of British art", was "cheered most heartily". He died on the night of 31 March 1837, apparently from heart failure, and was buried with Maria in the graveyard of St John-at-Hampstead, Hampstead. (His children John Charles Constable and Charles Golding Constable are also buried in this family tomb.)

-- wikipedia

Constable's Paintings

--by Constable, John, 1776-1837; Linton, James Dromgole, Sir, 1840-1916

OHN CONSTABLE was born on June nth, 1776, at East Bergholt, in Suffolk, a district that remained the chief inspiration of his work throughout the whole of his life. He was a weak child, and his career at school was far from brilliant. His father, a miller with a large trade, desired that his son should enter one of the professions, the Church for preference. But the lad had made up his mind to become a painter, an occupation his father at first refused to allow him to follow\ As time passed on it became obvious that Constable had no vocation for the Church, and he entered the family business. Here he remained until about the year 1795, seeking every opportunity to practise the art of painting. He had for company a friendly enthusiast, John Dunthorne, the village plumber and glazier. In the daytime they sketched from nature ; at night they copied engravings after Raphael and Claude, or watercolours by Girtin. Constable received much encouragement from Sir George Beaumont, a capable amateur landscape painter who had a great veneration for the old masters, and was in the habit of carrying a favourite canvas by Claude (No. 61 in the National Gallery, London) wherever he travelled. Struck by Constable's promise, the baronet interested himself in the boy's desire to become an artist. At length the elder Constable consented that his son should settle in London and become definitely a student. In 1799 John Constable entered the schools of the Ro}^al Academy, and, receiving an allowance from his father and the proceeds of an occasional sale, he seems to have lived without any great hardship. But, whilst working in the metropolis, he was constantly looking forward to forthcoming visits to Suffolk. He was never a Londoner in spirit. Years after (in 182 1) he wrote: — "The Londoners, with all their ingenuity as artists, know nothing of the feelings of a country life, the essence of landscape." In 1799 he wrote to his old friend John Dunthorne : — "This fine weather almost makes me melancholy ; it recalls so forcibly every scene we have visited and drawn together. I even love every stile and stump, and every lane in the village, so deep rooted are early impressions."

Like many lovers of nature, Constable was somewhat of a recluse, and disliked society. He possessed several good friends, however. Sir George Beaumont has already been mentioned. Many years after, Constable visited Beaumont at Cole-Orton, and his letters contain several interesting references to his doings. From them Leslie in his "Life" compiles the following stories. 'Though Sir George Beaumont and Constable agreed, generally, in their opinions of the old masters, yet their tastes differed materially on some points of art, and their discourse never languished for want of "an animated no." A constant communion with pictures, the tints of which are subdued by time, no doubt tends to unfit the eye for the enjoyment of freshness ; and Sir George thought Constable too daring in the modes he adopted to obtain this quality ; while Constable saw that Sir George often allowed himself to be deceived by the effects of time, of accident, and by the tricks that are, far oftener than is generally supposed, played by dealers, to give mellowness to pictures ; and, in these matters, each was disposed to set the other right. Sir George had placed a small landscape by Gaspar Poussin on his easel, close to a picture he was painting, and said, "Now, if I can match these tints I am sure to be right." " But suppose, Sir George," replied Constable, " Gaspar could rise from his grave, do you think he would know his own picture in its present state ? or if he did, should we not find it difficult to persuade him that somebody had not smeared tar or cart grease over its surface, and then wiped it imperfectly off?" At another time, Sir George recommended the colour of an old Cremona fiddle for the prevailing colour of every thing, and this Constable answered by laying an old fiddle on the green lawn before the house. Again, Sir George, who seemed to consider the autumnal tints necessary, at least to some part of a landscape, said, " Do you not find it very difficult to determine where to place your brown tree?" And the reply was, " Not in the least, for I never put such a thing into a picture." '

Before 1 8 1 1 Constable had been fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of the Rev. John Fisher (after Archdeacon, and chaplain to the Bishop of Salisbury), which ultimately ripened into a fast and lasting friendship. The painter owed much to the warm encourage ment and help which Archdeacon Fisher never failed to give. Another event had a marked influence upon Constable's future. He fell in love with Maria Bicknell, daughter of the solicitor to the Admiralty, and grand-daughter of the rector of Bergholt. The courtship was a long one, for Dr. Rudde, the rector, resolutely set his face against the engagement. The marriage did not take place until October, 1816.
Constable exhibited at the Royal Academy for the first time in [802, and in 18 19 was elected an Associate. Although his position as an artist was then assured,Constable paintings fetched comparatively small prices, and his art lacked the appreciation it deserved. The year 1824 was the most eventful of his life. Three of his pictures were exhibited in Paris, where they made a remarkable sensation amongst the French artists. From Charles X. Constable received a gold medal as a reward and acknowledgment of the great artistic merit of Constableworks. When exhibited at the town of Lille they received a second medal. These honours increased the fame of Constable, but they do not seem to have had much effect upon his financial prosperity. The most celebrated of the canvases is the Hay-Wain, now in the National Gallery, having been bequeathed to that institution by the late Mr. Vaughan.

In 1829 Constable was elected a full member of the Royal Academy, and this marked the culmination of his career. Before his election Constable moved his family from London to Hampstead. The heath of this village so charmed him that, next to the county in which he was born, Hampstead Heath from that time supplied him with most of his subjects. Hampstead, Bergholt, and Salisbury were the main sources of his inspiration. Early in his career he made a sketching tour through Cumberland, but the north country was not sympathetic (he told Leslie that the solitude of the mountains oppressed his spirits), and he never produced any important pictures based upon the results of his studies in that region. In 1830 Con stable commenced to publish a set of mezzotint engravings from Constable paintings and studies, admirably reproduced in that process by David Lucas. Towards the end of his life he delivered a series of lectures upon Landscape Art, containing the results of his experience, observation, and practice. From these lectures students can gather many truths and much knowledge.
Constable died very suddenly on April ist, 1837, and was buried in the churchyard of Hampstead. His life was not a long one, but it was uniformly peaceful. He had many disappointments, and one great sorrow. At the same time he had compensations which do not fall to the lot of all men. He loved his family ; he was loved by his friends. Above all he was supremely happy in the practice of his art. "It is a great happiness," says Bacon, "when men's professions and their inclinations accord." Constable had discovered this truth himself, for the quotation is the closing sentence in the last lecture he delivered upon the art he adorned so brilliantly.

-- wikipedia

Home  |   About Toperfect Group  |   Contact Us  |   Terms & Copyrights

Powered by Toperfect ([ˈtɔpəfikt]), Top & Perfect.

Copyright © 1995 - . Toperfect is trademark of Toperfect Group.