– 1837) was an English Romantic painter.
a village on the River Stour in Suffolk,
he is known principally for his landscape of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding
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 Dedham
1802 and The
Hay Wain of
1821. Although his paintings are now among the most popular and valuable
in British art, he was never financially successful and did not become a
member of the establishment until he was elected to the Royal Academy at
the age of 52. He sold more paintings in France than in his native
His father was a wealthy corn merchant, owner of Flatford
Mill in East
Bergholt and, later, Dedham Mill.
Golding Constable also owned his own small
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
his youth, Constable embarked on amateur sketching trips
in the surrounding Suffolk countryside that 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."
Hay Wain was
finished in 1821 and shows a hay wain (a
type of horse-drawn, load-carrying vehicle, used for agricultural
rather than transporting people) near Flatford Mill on
the River Stour in Suffolk,
though because the Stour forms the border of two counties, it depicts
Willy Lott's Cottage in Suffolk on the left bank and the Essex landscape
on the right bank. The Mill was owned by Constable's father, and the
house on the left side belonged to a neighbour, Willy Lott (a tenant farmer),
who was said to have been born in the house and never to have left it
for more than four days in his lifetime.
Willy Lott’s Cottage
survived to this day practically unaltered, but none of the original
trees in the painting exist today. The water level is also higher, as
that area of East
sunk into the sea by one foot (30 cm) since Constable's time.