I was so involved in studying Constable that I almost missed his birthday. He was born in my neck of the woods East Bergholt, Suffolk, England on 11th June, 1776. And you can't grow up in the UK without hearing his name and seeing his work in print everywhere you go. For that very reason, I think the modern world tends to skip over his achievements.
When you compare the work of John Constable to his contemporaries it's not wonder that it became so famous. He pioneered the technique of using broken colour to express light 100 years before the Impressionists and it's thought that he was a major influence on Monet and Pissarro.
Originally painted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London, his most famous work, THE HAYWAIN, was shown at the Salon in Paris in 1824 where it received top prize awarded by Charles V. In the UK it has been voted the second most popular painting of all time with Turner's FIGHTING TEMERAIRE, painted only 15 years later, taking top honours.
At the time Constable lived there was a great burgeoning of style as England emerged from the constriction of the civil war era and the later Stuart reigns. Everything from food, to clothing, leisure pursuits, to building, to commerce was turned over and reinvented. Wealth was pouring into England from plantations in the far east and the new world, plus exports from the mines and mills of the north and the wealthy of the day weren't afraid to spend it. Fine Art was one of the beneficiaries, with huge stately homes requiring paintings to fill the walls. And what better choice than Constables idyllic country scenes and seascapes.
Below I have chosen some of Constables more unusual works, these are his less controlled sketches which show a looser, less considered style, more in tune with contemporary taste. They look as fresh today as they would have been shocking in his day.
John Constable died at Hampstead, London, England on 1 April 1837, nearly 200 years ago.