|Constable, John (1776-1837). English painter, ranked with Turner as one of the greatest British landscape artists.
Although he showed an early talent for art and began painting his native Suffolk scenery before he left school, his great originality matured slowly. He committed himself to a career as an artist only in 1799, when he joined the Royal Academy Schools and it was not until 1829 that he was grudgingly made a full Academician, elected by a majority of only one vote. In 1816 he became financially secure on the death of his father and married Maria Bicknell after a seven-year courtship and in the fact of strong opposition from her family. During the 1820s he began to win recognition: The Hay Wain (National Gallery, London, 1821) won a gold medal at the Paris Salon of 1824 and Constable was admired by Delacroix and Bonington among others. His wife died in 1828, however, and the remaining years of his life were clouded by despondency.
Constable worked extensively in the open air, drawing and sketching in oils, but his finished pictures were produced in the studio. For his most ambitious works--`six-footers' as he called them--he followed the unusual technical procedure of making a full-size oil sketch, and in the 20th century there has been a tendancy to praise these even more highly than the finished works because of their freedom and freshness of brushwork. (The full-size sketch for The Hay Wain is in the V&A, London, which has the finest collection of Constable's work.)
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