John Constable, the greatest of English landscape painters, came from the Suffolk, and it was from the Suffolk landscape that he drew his inspiration. Constable's affection for nature was great and his mastery to show the much loved English scene reached its marvelous peak. He always attempted to depict the transient effects of nature: light, clouds and rain.
Constable was an acute observer of nature and had a romantic passion for light. Constable's method of painting was nearest to Impressionism. His treatment of skies is especially notable. No one has painted cloud effects so truthfully and with so much skill.
John Constable was one of the major European landscape artists of the XIX century, whose art was admired by Delacroix and Gericault and influenced the masters of Barbizon and even the Impressionists, although he did not achieved much fame during his lifetime in England, his own country. John Constable was born in East Bergholt, Suffolk, on 11 June 1776, the fourth child and second son of Ann and Golding Constable. His father was a prosperous local corn merchant who inherited his business from an uncle in 1764. Constable was educated at Dedham Grammar School, where he distinguished himself more by his draughtsmanship than his scholarship. In 1793 his father decided to train him as a miller and, consequently, Constable spent a year working on the family mill, which helped him to determine his course of life: he would be an artist.
In 1796-1798 he took lessons from John Thomas Smith and later from George Frost, who supported his love of landscape painting and encouraged him to study Gainsborough's works. In 1700 he entered the Royal Academy Schools. As a student he copied Old Master landscapes, especially those of Jacob van Ruisdael. Though deeply impressed by the work of Claude Lorrain and the watercolours of Thomas Girtin, Constable believed the actual study of nature was more important than any artistic model. He refused to "learn the truth second-hand". To a greater degree than any other artist before him, Constable based his paintings on precisely drawn sketches made directly from nature. His most notable picture of his early works are Dedham Vale (1802), 'A Church Porch' (The Church Porch, East Bergholt) (1809), Dedham Vale: Morning (1811), Landscape: Boys Fishing (1813), Boatbuilding (1814), Wivenhoe Park (1816), Weymouth Bay (1816). Flatford Mill (1817) was his last work of the period, created en plein-air.
He married Maria Bicknell in 1816 and they settled in London. After 1816 he changed the method of his work turning away from realistic agrarian landscapes such as Landscape: Ploughing Scene in Suffolk (A Summerland) (1814). Now he was working mostly in his studio in London and had to work out the image from his memory, starting each picture from a full-size sketch. The sketches enabled his memory to develop gradually until everything he could remember about the scene was satisfactorily suggested. At this point he would begin the finished painting. Each of his large canvass starting with The White Horse (1819) and continuing through Landscape: Noon (The Hay-Wain) (1821), The Lock (A Boat Passing a Lock) (1824), The Leaping Horse (1824-1825), The Cornfield (1826) was fulfilled in this way.
Although he never was popular in England, some of his works were exhibited in Paris and achieved instant fame. In 1829 he was finally elected a Royal Academician. His other important works of these period were Hampstead Heath (c.1820), Salisbury Cathedral, from the Bishop's Grounds (1823), A Mill at Gillingham in Dorset (Parham's Mill) (1826), Dedham Vale (1828), Hadleigh Castle (1829), Old Sarum (1829), Salisbury Cathedral, from the Meadows (1831). He died on 31st of March, 1837 working on his last picture Arundel Mill and Castle (1837).