It’s no wonder that English romantic painter John Constable famously proclaimed ‘’painting is but another word for feeling,’’ as he was one of the most expressive painters to grace the art world. Although famous in England, much of Constable’s fame came to him late in his age where he struggled financially as a painter but later on his rank rose and he even found success in Paris and Spain. He is still relatively unknown to the rest of the art world but in England his name equals romantic poetic painting. In fact he was also referred to as ‘Constable Country’ due to his deep devotion of his hometown Suffolk and how most of his paintings inhabited the lovely Suffolk countryside. Constable was a genius at open air sketching which he further glorified into paintings.
John Constable was born in 1776 in East Bergholt, Suffolk into a well to do family of merchants and traders. Constable was expected to follow into his father’s foot-steps which he initially did but realized soon enough that it was not where his heart laid. Always a kindling spirit, Constable spent much of youth wandering around the countryside of Suffolk and Essex doing random sketches. It was the countryside that awoke the painter in him for which Constable was very grateful. For him everything about the countryside spoke to him in a genteel manner; the rocks flowers, waterfalls, birds – all touched the artist in him. Constable worked with paints, oil, pens and pencils – basically anything he could get his hands on. Constable mostly self-taught himself as an artist thus it took him a while to develop properly as a painter. He was heavily influenced by the French Romantic movement, Dutch artists and the Barbizon School – Constable’s paintings had a heavy element of open air, landscapes and scenes of rural life. There is a slight dark undertone in Constable’s paintings; he used dark composition of colors to make the objects in his paintings stand out more. These elements gave his work a sense of realism and vivacity rather than them being the usual landscape paintings everyone comes across all the time. Constable’s iconic painting the Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows is the perfect embodiment of everything the artist was good at. It’s vast, with the perfect representation of the countryside Constable loved and is rich in its colors and composition. The painting is so real that it transports the viewer to the Cathedral the minute their eyes descend upon this masterpiece.
Constable used dark and dense colors for the painting, rumors state that Constable quickly finished this painting rather than taking his time as he usually did. So iconic is the painting that it was sold for a massive £2 million at Sotheby’s. Constable’s paintings came out at a time when the ‘Grand Manner’ type paintings were in fashion – these consisted of mythological and biblical depictions and were quite over the top. Constable’s work was the complete opposite of this, which is why he struggled to get his work noticed at the beginning of his career as an artist. It took him a few years to make a mark, at the age of 54 Constable was finally inducted into the Royal Academy. To this day John Constable remains a prominent artist who had a deep devotion to the power of nature and emotion when it came to his paintings.