John Constable Biography

John Constable John Constable (1776-1837) was famous for his watercolours and paintings of the British landscape.

John Constable was born in Suffolk where he spent most of his life. His most famous paintings were of the area around Dedham Vale where he lived. John Constable believed the greatest art came from using the inspiration of nature, rather than using various techniques and imagination to impose oneself on art.

“When I sit down to make a sketch from nature, the first thing I try to do is to forget that I have ever seen a picture”

– John Constable

John Constable The Hay Wain

the haywain - constable

In his lifetime, John Constable never achieved great financial success. His fame only grew after his death, and he is now one of the most famous and well known British painters.

To make ends meet, Constable often drew portraits. But, it was something he never really enjoyed. His heart was drawn to capturing the essence of the British countryside.


John Constable’s Cornfield 1821

Ironically, he sold more paintings in France than his native England. But, when given the chance to travel to promote his paintings abroad, he said he would rather “be a poor man in England than a rich man abroad.”

John married his child hood friend, Maria Bicknell, in October 1816. They had seven children and John was heartbroken when she died in 1828. He spent the remainder of his life looking after his children himself.

John Constable was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1821.

Art of John Constable

His style is reminiscent of the Classic Masters, but also he increasingly developed a free style, which gave an added impressionistic feel to his paintings. For example, ‘Stonehenge’ gives a mythical impression of this timeless English monument.


Stonehenge 1835

Citation : Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of John Constable”, Oxford,, 21/12/2009

The Haywain scene in Flatford today


Photo: Tejvan

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