John Constable (1776-1837) is arguably the best-loved of English artists; his fame and popularity are rivalled only by those of his great contemporary, J.M.W. Turner. But like Turner, his reputation rests on a handful of very well-known paintings, normally Suffolk scenes such as Flatford Mill or Hay-Wain. Many of the magisterial productions of his last years, including Hadleigh Castle and The Opening of the Waterloo Bridge are a far cry from the Suffolk scenes, whilst his accomplishments within the difficult and competitive genre of marine painting have been consistently undervalued. Barry Venning's introduction considers Constable's background, his family life, his education, and the early friendships from which he drew patronage, support, and advice. He discusses the artist's relationship with the great tradition of European landscape painting and examines the historical and cultural context within which Constable lived and worked.
Barry Venning is an art historian who was educated at the University of York and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has a particular interest in British landscape painting and has published articles in the Burlington Magazine, Art History, and Turner Studies. He currently teaches at Chelsea College of Art and for the Open University.
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