Constable, John (1776-1837)
John Constable was the son of a miller in Suffolk, England. As a child, he was shown the work of Claude Lorrain and began painting in water-colour and sketching by himself until he was twenty-four, when he entered the Royal Academy School in London.
Constable painted typical scenes of the southern English countryside, working in water-colour and directly from nature - enlarging his sketches in oil, once indoors. These landscapes differ from those of his predecessors due to Constable's concern with light, air, and sky, rather than with exact landscape details.
His first exhibition in 1802 passed unnoticed as demand in England was for portrait painting. As a result, Constable started painting portraits, for which he cared little, to earn his meagre living, while continuing to paint the landscapes in which his true interest lay. When he was forty-eight, he sent several landscapes to the Paris Salon. The French were impressed by his work and awarded him the Gold Medal (1824) for The Hay Wain. Five years later Constable was finally elected to full membership in the Royal Academy. He considered this honour as having come too late. His spent his last years a lonely and embittered man.