John Constable



Constable's Timeline

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Written by Peter Imialek


1776 (birth) - John Constable is born on June 11th in East Bergholt, a village on the River Stour in Suffolk, to Golding and Ann Constable. Golding Constable was a wealthy corn merchant, the owner of Flatford Mill Dedham Mill in East Bergholt. He also owned his own small ship The Telegraph.

1780 to 1794 (ages 4 to 18) - Constable spends his youth sketching the picturesque Suffolk countryside that will later make up a large portion of his art. In his own words, these scenes, "made me a painter, and I am grateful".

1799 (age 23) - Constable convinces his father to let him pursue art. He enters the Royal Academy School as a probationer. He finds inspiration in paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, Thomas Gainsborough, Claude Lorrain and Annibale Carracci.

1802 (age 26) - Great Marlow Military College offers Constable the position of drawing master, which he refuses.

1803 (age 27) - Constable spends visits ports in the South East aboard the Coutts. Constable's paintings begin to be exhibited at the Royal Academy.

1806 (age 30) - Undertaking a two-month tour of Lake District, Constable's spirit is oppressed by the solitude of the mountains. Charles Leslie, his friend and biographer, will later write:

"His nature was peculiarly social and could not feel satisfied with scenery, however grand in itself, that did not abound in human associations. He required villages, churches, farmhouses and cottages"

1809 (age 33) - Constable's childhood friendship with Maria Bicknell begins to develop into love.

1811 (age 35) - Constable vists John Fisher and his family for the first time in Salisbury. The city will become the subject of some of Constable's greatest paintings.

1816 (age 40) - Golding and Ann Constable both pass away and Constable inherts a fifth of the family business. This inheritance pursuades Maria Bicknell's parents to let her marry Constable, whom they considered their social inferior. John and Maria marry in October.

1819 (age 43) - Constable sells his first significant work, The White Horse. He is also elected an Associate of the Royal Academy.

1821 (age 45) - Constable exhibits The Hay Wain at the Academy.

1824 (age 48) - The Hay Wain, bought by the art dealer John Arrowsmith, is exhibited at the Paris Salon and wins a gold medal. Constable's work attracts more attention in France than in England. Nevertheless he refuses to travel abroad to promote his work, writing to Francis Darby: "I would rather be a poor man [in England] than a rich man abroad."

1828 (age 52) - After the birth of their seventh child, Maria falls ill and in Novemberdies of tuberculosis at the age of 41. Constable writes to his brother Golding: "hourly do I feel the loss of my departed Angel—God only knows how my children we be brought up...the face of the World is totally changed to me". For the rest of his life, Constable will dress in black and care for this seven children alone.

1829 (age 53) - Constable is elected to the Royal Academy in February.

1831 (age 55) - Constable is appointed Visitor at the Royal Academy.

1835 (age 58) - Constable dies from indigestion on the night of March 31st. He his buried with Maria in the graveyard of St. John-at-Hampstead, Hampstead.

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