John Constable’s father initially intended him to be a priest, then a miller, but the young man himself preferred to spend his time drawing from nature. Sir George Beaumont, the founder of London’s National Gallery, took note of the young man’s gifts and persuaded his father to send him to the Royal Academy in London to be trained as a painter. After a few years Constable withdrew from the school to pursue his favorite activity, landscape painting.
Many English painters of the late eighteenth century were drawn to landscape painting. Reynolds used landscapes to enrich the backgrounds of his portraits, as did Gainsborough, who also produced pictures in which the landscape is dominant. Constable painted landscape for itself, as a part of straightforward depictions of figures going about their daily lives.
In 1824, when Constable was almost fifty, he received his first important commission. The archbishop of Salisbury asked him to paint a view of the cathedral there. Five years later he became a member of the Royal Academy in London. He was not able to enjoy the official limelight for long, however, for he died suddenly in 1837, bringing his brilliant but belated career to a premature end.
His work had little impact in England, but it greatly influenced such French landscape painters as Boudin and Monet, who were fascinated by his practice of painting in the open air and his attentiveness to ephemeral atmospheric effects. Constable made a point of carefully noting on the backs of his studies – those of clouds are the most famous – the date and time at which they had been made as well as the prevailing weather and lighting conditions.
This article is courtesy of ‘The beginners guide to Art’ , translated from French by John Goodman, edited by Brigitte Govignon.The article was brought to you by Blue Horizon Printing ,experts in premium quality canvas prints at affordable prices.