Constable was, with Joseph Turner, the major English landscape painter of the 19th century. He is best known for his paintings of the English countryside.
John Constable was born on 11 June 1776 in East Bergholt in Suffolk, the son of a prosperous miller. He was educated at Dedham Grammar School, then worked for his father's business. He persuaded his father to send him to study at the Royal Academy Schools, which he entered in 1799.
In 1816, after much opposition from her father, Constable married Maria Bicknell. She suffered from tuberculosis, so they lived in Hampstead in north London, which was thought to be healthier than central London. In the early 1820s they began frequent visits to Brighton, also for Maria's health.
Constable believed that his paintings should come as directly as possible from nature. He made hundreds of outdoor oil sketches, capturing the changing skies and effects of light. He was happiest painting locations he knew well, particularly in his native Suffolk. He also frequently painted in Salisbury, Brighton and Hampstead, making numerous studies of the clouds over the Heath.
Maria's death in 1828 was devastating for Constable and left him responsible for their seven children. The following year he was belatedly elected to full membership of the Royal Academy. Constable received little other recognition in Britain in his lifetime, but was much better known in France. In 1824, 'The Hay Wain' won a gold medal at the Salon in Paris and Constable had a profound influence on French Romantic artists.
Constable died in London on 31 March 1837.
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