John Constable. (1776 – 1837).




Analysis : John Constable. The Cathedral of Salisbury. (1825).



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John Constable. (1776 – 1837).

Son of a rich miller, John Constable is intended by his father for the ecclesiastical career, it prefers, adolescent, to spend his time drawing. In 1796 it leaves for London where it becomes acquainted with the engraver John Thomas Smith, when to sir George Beaumont, the founder of the National Gallery of London, notices his gifts, it manages to persuade his father to register it in Royal Academy. Constable becomes the pupil of Joseph Farington there during a few years, then decides to leave the school in order to devote itself to the painting of landscape. It is exerted there in particular by copying works of Jacob Van Ruysdael and Claude Lorrain, who will exert on him a great influence. It copies also Richard Wilson and Gaspard Dughet all while impregnating works of Thomas Gainsborough.

In 1802 it exposes its first pictures to Royal Academy. Whereas at the end of the 18th century the landscape was not still approached by the English painters, like Reynolds or Gainsborough, that like a decoration, Constable chooses to only paint nature for it, by representing characters put either in scene but in their daily occupations.

Towards 1810 its pallet clears up and he manages to find a unit and a harmony in his colors. To this period (1809) go back : Malvern Hall in Warwickshire, View of Epsom and Sunset In Fall (1812). Around 1820 it is even closer to nature in its Shipyard At Flatford Mill.

Excursions in British Isles enable him to refine sounds acute sense of the wild landscapes, the atmosphere, the clouds and the light. From 1821 it carries out many studies of clouds and heaven, accompanied by weather annotations. In 1823 with Sir Georges Beaumont it can admire the Landscape With the Castle De Steen of Rubens, this picture will mark it.

Very attached to its area of origin, Suffolk, it often takes again the same topics, like the edges of Stour the Mill of Dedham, 1820. In 1823 qu ' it receives its first important ordering of the bishop of Salisbury, a sight of the cathedral.

On this picture the motionless water level and the half-opened barrier, that has just crossed a couple, form a visual foreground which makes it possible to the painter to reject behind the luminous building. The arrow of the cathedral is detached from as much better than it is framed by a high warhead of foliage and than it is registered on a sky with its measurement. Constable regards the sky as the basic element of a landscape: “It would be difficult, he writes, to quote a kind of landscape where the sky would not be the dominant note, the measurement of space and the principal vehicle of the feeling. ”

Specialist of sky, it studies them like “ most imperceptible of the phenomena of the world ” and seeks “ to determine informs it ”. According to him: “ Painting is a science, and it should be a constant research of the natural laws. ”.

The following year, it exposes to Paris and gains a gold medal. Its pictures, and particularly the Cart of hay (1821) make the admiration of Delacroix and the landscape designers of the school of Barbizon which at that time start to paint in outside. After having this picture Delacroix decides to change colors them Scenes of the Massacres of Scio picture exposed in 1824. In 1828 its wife Maria Bicknell dies of tuberculosis after having given rise to seven children, this reflects itself in its work of which the atmosphere becomes darker.

The picture of youth of Constable are very impregnated by the tradition of le Lorrain, or Van Ruisdael and Gainsborough. It is as a majority of the landscapes to the dark colors. But dice 1802 he prefers with the workshop the direct observation of nature. Constable always regards the sky as the element prevailing of a landscape. Its manner becomes more animated and it starts to use the knife. Sometimes it tries to apply to the oil-base paint the principles of the watercolour. From this first period remain of especially religious works. Thereafter it is devoted especially to the portrait and the landscape. Its landscapes announce by its technique impressionism because of the direct observation, its pictures are dissociated by their freshness and their spontaneousness. He seeks the light effects. Its late works reveal the loneliness of the painter (Corn Field, 1836). But they announce Hudson River School.

Its art, from which emerges a particularly significant and sincere vision of nature, light and atmosphere, do not have much influence in England. He influence deeply French painters of second half of the 19th century, in particular Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet.

While painting and by observing the vastness, John Constable seeks to reach the true nature of the things. This made of him a romantic painter but also one of the most authentic precursors of impressionism in France and painters of the Hudson River School in the United States.