These are the 12 most famous paintings by John Constable, who was a Romantic painter from Britain. His most famous paintings include Dedham Vale and The Hay Wain, and he is principally known for his landscape paintings of the area surrounding his home. Even though his pictures are extremely popular today, they were not well received in England during his life.
The Hay Wain (1821)
This painting depicts a rural scene on the River Stour in England, located between the counties of Suffolk and Essex. It is Constable’s most famous painting, but also one of the most popular English paintings. It belongs to a series of paintings called “six-footers”, which are large-scale canvasses. The house depicted on the left side of the painting belonged to a neighbor, a tenant farmer who was born in the house and has never left it for more than four days in his life. The Flatford Mill was owned by the painter’s father, and the neighbor’s cottage still survives today. Even though this painting is one of the most popular works of the 19th century, when it was presented in its time, it failed to find a buyer.
Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (1831)
The Cathedral is shown from the northwest, looking across the river Nadder from a point near a footbridge, which is known as the Long Bridge. On the left, three horses are pulling a cart across the river, and on the right, the cattle graze in the meadows. The center of the painting is occupied by a black and white sheepdog whose gaze is turned toward the cathedral. The billowing clouds are pierced by the spire, while the dark rain cloud is hanging above, and a streak of lightning is flashing over the roof. The whole scene is interrupted by a magnificent rainbow.
The Cornfield (1826)
Constable referred to this painting as The Drinking Boy. The trees and plants in this painting are painted as accurately as possible because the artist was advised by his friend, Henry Phillips, a botanist. In this painting, a young shepherd is depicted on the left. He is drinking from a pool as he rests from his work at noon, in the heat of summer.
The Opening of Waterloo Bridge seen from Whitehall Stairs (1817)
This painting is over seven feet in length, and it is the largest Constable’s canvas. As a result of thirteen years of planning, it commemorates the opening of Waterloo Bridge, and the second anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo on June 18th, 1817. This occasion is celebrated whit tremendous pomp and ceremony Constable recaptured in the whole series of drawings and oil sketches, which dated from 1819 onwards.
The Vale of Dedham (1828)
This painting depicts the view from Gun Hill along the River Stour to Dedham village and the distant Stour estuary which was the painter’s favorite subject which he painted several times. He thickly applied paint with touches of white to emphasize the sunlight’s reflection.
This landscape watercolor on a paper painting could be the expression of the artist’s unhappiness, for the color scheme is melancholic. It depicts Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire.
Wivenhoe Park (1816)
This painting is another Constable’s landscape of the countryside where he spent his childhood in Suffolk. It was commissioned by the owner of the park, Major General Francis Slater-Rebow, who was among Constable’s first patrons.
Portrait of Maria Bicknell (1816)
Maria Bicknell was the daughter of the Solicitor to the Admiralty. Her grandfather was the rector of East Bergholt, where the artist met her in 1800. They fell in love a few years later, but partly because of the rector’s opposition they did not marry until 1816. He painted this portrait about three months before their marriage.
Stratford Mill (1820)
This painting is the second landscape of the “six-footer” series depicting the river Stour. This Mill was a water-powered paper mill, located on a small island just outside the village, and it can be seen on the far left of the picture.
The Leaping Horse (1825)
This painting belongs to a series of large, six-foot paintings from 1819. Constable paid attention to the weather and landscape, but this painting remained unsold. But he altered the composition by painting over an old willow stump in front of the horse and adding the half-furled sail on the barge. These details gave the composition greater direction by focusing the eye of the viewer on the dramatic leap of the horse.
Weymouth Bay (1816)
This oil on canvas landscape depicts Weymouth Bay on the south coast of England. Where Constable spent his honeymoon. To be exact, he spent it at the village of Osmington, but this painting includes Bowleaze Cove, Jordan Hill, and the small river Jordan flowing with Furzy Cliff behind.
The White Horse (1819)
This painting marks a vital, turning point in Constable’s career. It was the first of the six-foot paintings he did to prove he is a great landscape artist. It depicts the scene of River Stour in the east of England, but the subject of the painting is a horse on its left. This tow horse is being ferried across the river in Flatford, at a point where the towpath switches banks. This painting was one of the artist’s favorites and he commented: “There are generally in the life of an artist perhaps one, two or three pictures, on which hang more than usual interest – this is mine.”
What famous paintings by John Constable do you think we should add to this list? Comment below.