John Constable

John Constable, 1776–1837, English painter, b. Suffolk. Constable and Turner were the leading figures in English landscape painting of the 19th cent. Constable became famous for his landscapes of Suffolk, Hampstead, Salisbury, and Brighton. The son of a prosperous miller, he showed artistic talent while very young but did not devote himself to art until he was 23, when he went to London to study at the Royal Academy. Influenced by the 17th-century landscape painters Ruisdael and Claude Lorrain, his poetic approach to nature paralleled in spirit that of his contemporary, the poet Wordsworth. Constable's direct observations of nature and his free use of broken color were extraordinary in his day. He received but modest recognition in England, being tardily admitted to the Royal Academy in 1829. His work was more popular in France. In 1824, his View on the Stour (1819) and The Hay Wain (1821; National Gall., London) were exhibited at the Salon in Paris, winning gold medals. His work made a profound impression on the French romantics including the young Delacroix and Bonington. Later his painting influenced the Barbizon school and, more indirectly, the general course of French 19th-century landscape art. In the United States he is represented in the Metropolitan Museum and the Frick Collection, New York City, in the Mellon Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn., and in the galleries of Philadelphia, Toledo, and Chicago. Splendid examples of his work are contained in the National Gallery, London and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

See catalog of the latter collection by G. Reynolds (1960); C. R. Leslie, Memoirs of the Life of John Constable (enl. ed. 1937); collections of his letters by P. Holmes (1931) and R. B. Beckett (1962); biography by B. Taylor (1973); studies by C. Peacock (rev. ed. 1972) and R. Gadney (1976).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Discovery of Constable
Ian Fleming-Williams; Leslie Parris.
Holmes & Meier Publishing, 1984
John Constable's Clouds
Kurt Badt.
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1950
Masterpieces of English Painting
Hans Huth.
Art Institute of Chicago, 1946
Painting in England 1700-1850: Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon
Basil Taylor.
Virginia Museum of Fine Art, 1963
An Outline of 19th Century European Painting: From David through Cézanne
Lorenz Eitner.
Westview Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "English Landscapes"
Art, Artists and Society: Origins of a Modern Dilemma ; Painting in England and France, 1750-1850
Geraldine Pelles.
Prentice-Hall, 1963
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "The Language of Feelings"
English Art, 1800-1870
T. S. R. Boase.
Clarendon Press, 1959
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Turner and Constable"
Landscape Painting
Kenneth Clark.
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1950
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Five: The Natural Vision
The Economics of Taste: The Rise and Fall of Picture Prices, 1760-1960
Gerald Reitlinger.
Barrie and Rockliff, 1961
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "The Rewards of the Living Painter: The Proto-Victorians, 1800-1860"
Letters of the Great Artists: From Blake to Pollock
Richard Friedenthal.
Random House, vol.2, 1963
Librarian’s tip: Includes letters by John Constable
A Century of British Painters
Samuel Redgrave; Richard Redgrave.
Phaidon Press, 1947
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XXVII "Constable and other Landscape Painters"
FREE! The History of Modern Painting
Richard Muther.
J.M. Dent & Sons, vol.2, 1907 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Constable" begins on p. 99
FREE! Old English Masters
John C. Van Dyke.
The Century Co., 1902
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XV "John Constable"
The Romantics
Stephen Prickett.
Holmes & Meier, 1981
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of John Constable begins on p. 97
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