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If today the work of Constable is the pride of English painting and occupies a place of honor in the rich masterpieces of European painting of the early 19th century, then during his life the work of the master was unpopular in his homeland. He had the glory of a fine artist and colorist only abroad, in France. The biography of the artist is rich in events that are quite suitable for the series.
The miller had three sons ...
Constable's father was the owner of several mills in the north-east of England. The family was prosperous, but John's elder brother was poor in health and the father of the future painter looked at his middle son as a continuer of his family business. The passion for drawing in the Constable family was considered a whim and was not even considered as a possible profession.
John was sent to a good boarding school, and then to a good private school. Time passed, but the passion for painting did not pass. Until the age of 23, the young artist was forced to hide his passion. But in 1799, John openly told his father that he would not be a miller. Fortunately, by this time the younger brother had grown up, who did not differ in any tricks. Father waved at John, allocated a small amount of money to him and asked him not to expect more.
The beginning of the way
Studying at the Royal Academy did not bother Constable. He spent hours studying the paintings of the old masters of continental Europe at the National Gallery and worked a lot in kind. My father did not have enough money for a short time, but by this time the young master gets a place as a teacher of painting in one of the military colleges and does not experience material problems.
Pedagogy does not appeal to him at all, and also takes a lot of time. Two years later, Constable leaves college, which causes dissatisfaction with his mentors at the academy. One of the professors even calls this step the end of the artist’s career. In fact, this was only the beginning.
On free bread
A year later, after leaving college, Constable first exhibited his work for the general public. The audience looked and left. Many noted the freshness and amazing authenticity, but the artist did not wait for enthusiasm. It was necessary to somehow live and Constable decides to write several custom portraits. Orders appeared, but the master worked on them without any inspiration.
Friends invited him to travel east to create several paintings on the then fashionable themes - wildlife, exotic, bright sunrises and sunsets, etc. Traveling yielded nothing. More than anything, the Constable loved the nature of England, and the public demanded a completely different one.
Love and poverty
The sweet and innocent childhood attachment of John Constable and Maria Bicknell gradually develops into sincere love. Maria’s relatives are against their marriage - John is too poor and generally has no weight in society. Constable’s parents have nothing against marriage, but they don’t want to help either. The young had to wait a long 7 years, until John received a fifth of the family business after the death of his father.
The wedding took place in the fall of 1816. In this marriage, Mary will give John seven children and will forever remain his only muse and ally.
Work work work...
Constable's works - landscapes, genre scenes are still only popular among professionals. Despite the fact that John is regularly exhibited in the most famous galleries in England, for the first time the society drew attention to his work after one of the artist's works received a gold medal at an exhibition in France and received rave reviews from the respected Theodore Gericault. Thanks to this recall, the French impresario redeems several constable works. Glory, prosperity and recognition seem to be ahead.
Alas ... Despite the incredible performance and efforts, the material situation of the artist's family remains very modest. The thing is that the Constable categorically refuses to work abroad. The phrase belongs to him: I'd rather be poor at home than rich abroad. The result is a break in relations with all friends on the continent. Several unsuccessful commercial projects completely undermine the well-being of the Constable family.
Wife's death and finale
The artist’s beloved wife suffered from a disease that claimed thousands of lives of British people every year - tuberculosis. The climate, constant worries about the future of children, the failures of her husband - all this contributed to the fact that Mary died early. The constable did not recover from this blow until the end of his life.
A year after the death of his wife, he is admitted to the Academy, he becomes an inspector whom students love and respect. Demand for his paintings is growing in France, the best artists of the continent come to learn from him. Lectures on the history of landscape painting are extremely popular, but nothing can compensate for the loss of a beloved woman, the mother of his children.
In 1837, John Constable dies of a heart attack. During his life in England, he managed to sell only 12 of his works, in France - 4 times more. Today, Constable's works adorn the most reputable museums in Europe and America. In the world of art, his work is a recognized standard of harmony, emotionality and true natural beauty.