Friday, December 31, 2010
John Constable grew up on the stretch of river in the map above at the end of the 18th century. His father owned the large Flatford mill. He had a happy, even idyllic childhood playing along the banks of the river Stour. Below is a picture of the mill.
And here is a painting of the river and mill.
I think the reason that Constable painted as he did was because he was both extremely familiar with this landscape and he loved it. For Claude Loraine or Salvatore Rosa the landscape was a construct, something they invented from their imaginations.
Constable made innumerable studies of these locations and knew every inch of them intimately. He was sensitive to how they looked and how they made him feel. His art was based on experience of the place and not a constructed stage set from his imagination. Constable wanted to "get at" the real place and needed its actual appearance to do it. That drove him to study carefully how it looked, in the light and then to learn to depict that light.
Here is the house pictured in the Haywain, below.
The location of the painting can be found on the map above, look for Willy Lott's house. Each of the dots on that map locate the source of a major Constable painting. All are along perhaps a mile of river. This area is incidentally still unchanged and easily accessible. I have never been there, but I want to go and paint it before the death bunny arrives.