THE LANDSCAPE PAINTERS--CONSTABLE,
CALLCOTT AND COLLINS
TURNER, of whom we have already spoken, was not without contemporaries, distinguished men practising the same branch of art, yet in a manner quite their own, and aiming at original excellence. Of these John Constable, R.A., was remarkable as the first who wholly emancipated himself from the schools. His art is purely and thoroughly English. Turner, in his early works at least, built much on the art of Claude and Poussin; so did Callcott. Gainsborough, English as he was in almost every phase of his art, was not clear of the dark masters and the 'brown tree' school. Morland was a Dutchman in subject, and in the mode of composing his pictures. Crome built upon Ruysdael and Hobbema. But Constable began with studying nature; he was ever deep in the love of it, and ended as he began. His nature, too, was English nature; he never visited Italy; he did not even care for the mountain and the torrent of his own land, but he loved the flat pastures and the slow streams of his native Suffolk.
Constable was born at East Bergholt, Suffolk, on 11 June 1776. He was the son of a wealthy miller, who had inherited considerable property. He was first intended for the Church. Then his father tried to make a miller of him, but he had a loving preference for art, and after a year he was left to follow his own bent. In 1795 he came to London. In 1799 he was admitted a student of the Royal Academy; and in 1802 we find him exhibiting his first picture. Soon gaining confidence in his own powers, he wrote in the following year, 'I feel now more than ever a decided conviction that I shall some time or other make some good pictures--pictures that shall be valuable to posterity if I do not reap the benefit of them'. He made one or two attempts at history, then lost much time in painting portraits, the only art which he found paid, and at last settled down to his true art, as a landscape painter. In 1819 he gained his election as associate; and ten years later his full membership.
The banks of the Stour made him, he owns, a painter. He treated the nature which he saw in a thoroughly original manner, and he chose it under an aspect that had previously been overlooked. Landscape painters had hitherto usually painted with the sun at their backs,