John Constable: Painting Relationship With Landscape

Malvern Hall          National Gallery, London 
Oil on Canvas John Constable

If it is spring; if there is a strong wind of pleasure in the air; and if an artist like John Constable takes the brush in his hand; the message is clear: there would descend a masterpiece landscape on a canvas. 

What does an artist carry when he start painting? Artists like Constable carry a specific set of tools when they stand before a canvas when they stand with the colour-loaded brushes. Anything else? Yes, they have intuition. It is the strongest tool. Intuition pushes an artist to execute a painting that would be called an aesthetic outcome. 

The Art of Painting a Landscape: What does an artist feel when he or she is going to paint a landscape? The landscape is one of the most alluring subjects. There are artistic reasons for that.  May it is the unpredictable scenario on the surface of the earth, sky or sea; may it be the changing moods of trees and flowing rivers: these subjects have always appealed to the minds of artists.

Look at the above painting. This painting titled Malvern Hall is done by John Constable (1776-1837). He was an English artist of the nineteenth century. In addition to the lush green landscapes of England, Constable had put the big buildings on his canvases, too. When the artists include objects created by human labour, they infuse a different quality into their artworks. The works done by humans on the surface of the earth show how human endeavours affect the environment. Paintings of farms and farmhouse and beautifully painted rows of green trees witness the human efforts to decorate Mother Earth.  


Wivenhoe Park, Essex John Constable
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Constable had painted the English Landscape Garden in this painted. The photographic clarity had caught the harmony hidden in this pleasant natural scene. The painting was commissioned by the owner of Wivenhoe Park. It is believed that after getting the money from this painting, Constable was able to marry his year-long beloved.



The Hay Wain John Constable
This painting was sold for GBP 22.4 Million ($31.1 Million) at an auction in 2012. The purchaser had presented this painting to the National Gallery, Central London, where the painting is displayed presently. It is considered one of the best by Constable. It is the scene of a River Stour that flows between Suffolk and Essex.

Why the artist decorates Mother Earth on his or her canvases? It is because an artist feels that it is an artist's noble duty to depict the beauty of objects lying before the scope of eyes. There hidden beauty must be unfolded. That is what they think. and that is what they do. While painting landscape, artists like Constable explore the hidden potentials of the art of painting itself. He would think about how the artwork could be the cause of entertaining the eyes of art-lovers.

The Lock John Constable

The Artist: Constable was an artist with a difference. He had quietly rebelled against established artistic culture. He insisted that an artist should apply his or her imagination while composing paintings. Look at the painting The Lock. It is one of the six paintings Constable had painted about the English County of Suffolk. This painting had also fetched an unbelievable price at an auction in 2012.

If we observe this painting keenly, we can see that putting weight on the mere natural scene was not given much stress. Constable used his art in adoring the landscapes as they were. We can call this painting done in a realistic style. His paintings would look romantic, too. Here the element of movement shown is also the eye-catching one.

When an artist cultivates a working relationship with the landscape, he or she would move on to paint the green cover of the farms waving crops. He or she would paint water canals and disciplined rows of roadside trees. When dry land is shown adjacent to green fields, it depicts how we love to decorate the earth. And a painter like Constable would love to paint the mother earth in all of her moods. 

The White Horse John Constable
The Frick Collection, New York City
This painting was sold for just 100 guineas, to one of his
friends. But afterwards, Constable bought the painting
back and kept it for the whole of his life with him.

When the landscape artists include the objects created by human endeavours, they add different characteristics to their artworks. The paintings of the nicely tilled farm, the straight rows of planted trees, and other agricultural activities establish the stamp of the man’s capacity to affect the changes in the order of nature. The green cover of the crops waving in agricultural farms; the flowing water canals; the rows of roadside trees; and the forestation of drylands confirm the desire of the human race to create a working relationship with nature. These activities of mankind have greatly helped the natural forces to sustain the greater order of nature. The landscape painter puts this relationship on canvas. Here the endeavour of the artists is to show the relationship between the natural and the humans.

Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Garden John Constable
Oil on canvas   The Frick Collection, New York City

The other activities of humans affecting the natural view of the landscape are the erection of buildings on farmland and towns for habitation. The constructions at ports and market areas are the offspring of modern needs. 

Look at this painting of Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Garden. Building huge residential places were among the most favourite activities after the industrialization drive peaked up in Europe. Constable had painted several huge building. This is one of them.  Landscape artists like John Constable have also tried showing these edifices by painting these constructed objects and the subjects lying within them.

By his or her artistic endeavours, an artist always desires to entertain viewers and art lovers. The art that passes tests of time and tastes succeeds in carving out a permanent place within the hearts and consciousness of those who share the artistic joy presented through artworks. [All the images are in Public Domain, taken from Wikimedia Commons]

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