John Constable- The Painter that Never Traveled Abroad or Studied with Other Artists

John Constable is known for his detailed landscape artwork about the English countryside. He belonged to a time when the landscape genre was significant for British art. His work represents the scenery that he observed. This was mainly in the area around his home, Dedham Vale. With a fresh eye, he painted places he was familiar with, like Stour Valley, Brighton, and more.

John Constable

It was from an early age that he began admiring the natural beauties. This is visible through the following words:

I associate my careless boyhood with all that lies on the banks of the Stour. Those scenes made me a painter, and I am grateful“- Constable

The painter Constable did not choose places that were publicly admired. Instead, he wanted to explore the sites and scenery where he lived or felt connected.

Constable’s Background

Constable knew he had to carry on his father’s legacy with a wealthy father who was a corn merchant. Yet, he continued with an art career. Facing resentment and criticism from his father, Constable explored his love for art, landscape particularly, and was admitted to Royal Academy School. Soon, despite the career turmoil, Constable exhibited his work for the first time at the Royal Academy.

John Constable’s Friends

Constable did not study with great artists. Yet, he was able to build strong friendships. It was such that his friends proved their loyalty and helped him in his career. They were there to provide support and give advice. And as per his friend John Dunthorne’s advice, he continued to draw. Also, because of Joseph Farington and Sir George Beaumont, Constable got access to the works of old masters for inspiration and execution. As a result, it was soon that Constable became efficient in oil painting, and his career got attention.

You can learn about John Constable through his philosophy of landscape painting. Constable added realism to natural landscapes and drew them in their proper form. In addition, he painted rotten furniture and old brickwork, even in an era where the formal picturesque style of landscape art was globally admired.

You can learn about John Constable with the underlying fact that he disregarded landscape paintings pioneered during the contemporary ages. Instead, he attempted to transfer his observation on canvas in its proper form skillfully. Constable was vocal about painting rotten furniture and brickwork, even in the era when the formal picturesque style of landscape art was globally admired.

John Constable’s Work

John Constable paintings gradually leaped over a more realistic piece of art. His earlier works, like Landscape with Grey Windy Sky, show obvious streaks of brushwork covering a blustery day. Constable handled paints differently. While the other artists of the 19th century would paint over the surface, Constable would use strokes involving vigorous movements.

Much of Constable’s work has drawn influence from the teachings of science. This follows the phenomenon of observation as well as experience. Nature and its objects, trees, and clouds, were at the center of Constable’s artwork. He would sketch these in natural light, with the subject in front of him. This would give him direct experience and exposure.

As Constable would directly observe nature, he would be quick with his sketches. The lights could change, and so the climate. He would then complete these sketches in his studio with great precision. He was never ready to compromise on the mood of the landscape.

John Constable loved to study the clouds. He would capture them in various forms and assess them. He would paint the different tones of the sky and capture it from the hills to where he lived or felt connected. In connection with this, Constable brought out the romantic nature of the rainbows. He acknowledged the soothing effect of a rainbow reflection. This is visible in his work Stonehenge (1835).

The painter Constable began his career by sketching areas like Lake District. Soon he realized that such pictures did not appeal to him. He wanted to explore and get closer to the proper form of nature. For this reason, he began to show more interest in painting different climates. He began to examine various times of the day. Soon he was digging deep into exploring the countryside. This involved areas around his home and hence started the oil sketches.

He would love to sit in the open air, draw, and experiment with different tones of colors. This would match the lightning and its consequent effects. So, starting small, Constable’s pencil drawings soon converted to bigger oil paintings. And these stood out in exhibitions.

John Constable


The Global Demand for Constable’s Work

It is important to note that while Constable sold about 20 paintings in England, he sold more in France. The artist did not travel to France. Yet his work got recognition and admiration across borders. His famous painting ‘The Hay Wain’ received a Gold medal in Paris by Charles X of France in 1824. The artist, however, refused all the invitations to travel abroad. His loyalty to his homeland can be assessed in the following words:

“I would rather be a poor man in England than a rich man abroad.”

The Barbizon Group in France showed great interest and admired Constable’s work. Of course, they were famous for being landscape painters. However, this admiration was due to their interest in naturalism. And this later formed the basis for the impressionists. Several artists like Eugene Delacroix appreciated Constable’s works, labeling them as the glory of England.


John Constable’s paintings would give you deja vu. His vision of landscapes of the countryside would bring in that nostalgia. Constable explored life as simple as that of farms and old-fashioned scenery. His work is so natural that a viewer can attach his memories to the painting and return in time. Even after his death, his work speaks volumes about the true beauty of nature.


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