National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Wivenhoe Park, Essex John Constable (artist)
British, 1776 - 1837
Wivenhoe Park, Essex, 1816
oil on canvas
overall: 56.1 x 101.2 cm (22 1/16 x 39 13/16 in.) framed: 77.8 x 122.5 x 8.8 cm (30 5/8 x 48 1/4 x 3 7/16 in.)
Widener Collection
1942.9.10
On View
From the Tour: Constable and Turner — British Landscapes of the Early 1800s
Object 1 of 11

This picture, exhibited at Britain’s Royal Academy in 1817, demonstrates Constable’s wish to be “a natural painter” because it was created almost entirely out-of-doors. During August and September 1816, the artist documented this country estate of old family friends and recorded his progress in letters to his fiancée. (The commission financed their wedding.)

Centered in the panoramic design, the red brick manor house stands out by reason of its warm color in an otherwise cool scheme of blues, greens, and grays. Constable wrote about the “great difficulty” of incorporating the thatch-roofed deer barn. To add this requested motif, he cleverly sewed about an inch of extra fabric to the canvas at the far right. Then, in order to restore the composition’s symmetrical balance, he stitched a similar strip to the left side, where he showed the owners’ daughter, Mary Rebow, driving a donkey cart.

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