Cultured Wednesday: Constable’s Hay Wain

Constable never imagined how famous his work would become. He wrote “My art will never be popular” and “My art is far too modern”.

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John Constable (1778 – 1837) is now England’s most famous landscape artist, but he sold fewer than twenty paintings in his home country in his own lifetime.  He painted the Suffolk countryside of his childhood throughout his life, so the scene shown in The Hay Wain, probably his most well-known painting, would have been one he used to witness every year as a boy: Constable’s father owned Flatford Mill, and the view shown in The Hay Wain is what Young John saw standing in front of his father’s mill looking out over the fort and toward neighbor Willie Lott’s house.  The empty hay cart shall be needed soon!

Note also the dramatic sky over the rural scene.

John_Constable_The_Hay_Wain
John Constable’s Landscape: Noon, better known as The Hay Wain, 1821

The Hay Wain is one of a series of paintings by Constable called the “six-footers”, since they all are large-scale canvasses which he painted for the annual summer exhibitions at the Royal Academy.

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