Overview

A pleasant sense of ease and harmony pervades this landscape of almost photographic clarity. The large areas of brilliant sunshine and cool shade, the rambling line of the fence, and the beautiful balance of trees, meadow, and river are evidence of the artist's creative synthesis of the actual site. The precision of Constable's brushwork, seen in the animals, birds, and people, lends importance to these smaller details.

Constable was a native of Suffolk, the county just north of Essex. His deep, consuming attachment to the landscape of this rural area is a constant factor in his works. His studies and sketchbooks reveal his complete absorption in the pictorial elements of his native countryside: the movement of cloud masses, the feel of the lowlands crossed by rivers and streams, and the dramatic play of light over all.

The commission for this painting came from Major General Francis Slater–Rebow, owner of Wivenhoe Park, who had been a close friend of Constable's father and was the artist's first important patron. This was not the first work Constable had done for the Rebows; in 1812 he had painted a full–length portrait of the couple's daughter, then aged seven. She can be seen in this painting riding in a donkey cart at the left.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Painted for Major-General Francis Slater-Rebow, Wivenhoe Park and Alresford Hall, near Colchester, Essex; by descent through Mary Martin Slater-Rebow and John Gurdon-Rebow to Hector John Gurdon-Rebow [b. 1846].[1] (Leo Nardus [1868-1955], Suresnes, France, and New York); purchased 1906 by Peter A.B. Widener, Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania;[2] inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park; gift 1942 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1817
Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1817, no. 85.
1983
Constable's England, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1983, no. 27, color repro.
1991
Constable, Tate Gallery, London, 1991, no. 79, repro.
2000
Constable and Wivenhoe Park: Reality and Vision, University Gallery, University of Essex, Colchester, 2000, no. 4, repro.
2006
Constable's Great Landscapes: The Six-foot Paintings, Tate Britain, London; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, 2006-2007, no. 17, repro.

Bibliography

1915
Roberts, William. Pictures in the Collection of P.A.B. Widener at Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania: British and Modern French Schools, Philadelphia, 1915: unpaginated, repro.
1923
_Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1923: unpaginated, repro.
1931
_Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1931: 226, repro.
1942
_Works of Art from the Widener Collection. Foreword by David Finley and John Walker. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 5.
1944
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1944: 146, color repro.
1946
_Favorite Paintings from the National Gallery of Art Washington, D.C.. New York, 1946: 65-67, color repro.
1948
_Paintings and Sculpture from the Widener Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1948 (reprinted 1959): 94, repro.
1956
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 48, repro.
1957
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 146
1960
Cooke, Hereward Lester. British Painting in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1960 (Booklet Number Eight in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.): 32, color repro.
1960
_The National Gallery of Art and Its Collections. Foreword by Perry B. Cott and notes by Otto Stelzer. National Gallery of Art, Washington (undated, 1960s): 9, repro.
1962
Bleckett, R.B., ed. John Constable's Correspondence. 6 vols. London (Historical Manuscripts Commission), 1962; Ipswich (Suffolk Records Society, vols. 6, 8, 10, 11, 12), 1964-1968: 2 (1964): 196, 199, 203, 206.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 238, repro.
1965
_Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 29.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:364, color repro.
1968
Cooke, Hereward Lester. Painting Lessons from the Great Masters. London, 1968: 42, fig. 28, color repro. opp. 102.
1968
_European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 22, repro.
1973
Taylor, Basil. Constable: Paintings, Drawings and Watercolours. London, 1973: 29, pl. 51.
1975
_European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 74, repro.
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: no. 593, color repro.
1978
King, Marian. Adventures in Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1978: 79, pl. 47.
1979
Hoozee, Robert. L'opera completa di Constable. Milan, 1979: 108, no. 218, repro.; color pls. xx-xxi.
1979
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 100, pl. 88.
1983
Rosenthal, Michael. Constable: The Painter and His Landscape. New Haven and London, 1983: 16-17, 104, 108-110, 111, color pls. 12, 16 detail.
1984
Reynolds, Graham. The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable. 2 vols. New Haven and London, 1984: 1:4-5, no. 17.4; 2:color pl. 6.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 406, no. 578, color repro.
1985
_European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 93, repro.
1992
Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 29-32, color repro. 31.
1992
_National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 155, repro.
1997
Hoving, Thomas. Greatest Works of Art of Western Civilization. New York, 1997, p. 192-193, repro.
1998
Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition: Romanticism, Realism, and the Nineteenth-Century World, 1998: 1, repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 342-343, no. 276, color repro.
2006
Kelly, Franklin. "Constable's Great Landscapes: Planning an Exhibition." Bulletin / National Gallery of Art, no. 35 (Fall 2008): 16, fig. 5.
2012
Marshall, Nancy Rose. City of Gold and Mud: Painting Victorian London. New Haven, 2012: 227, fig. 196.

Technical Summary

The medium-weight canvas is plain woven. It was added to by the artist on either side; the additional pieces are 10.5 cm wide on the left and 9 cm wide on the right; the canvases have been lined. The ground layer visible, a light warm brown, may be an imprimatura over a lighter ground. The painting is executed fluidly and fairly thickly with generally small brushstrokes, the highlights in low impasto. There are minor scattered paint losses. The painting was restored and revarnished with a synthetic resin in 1983.

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