The Cornfield

‘The Cornfield’, John Constable, 1826: another of the pictures from the National Gallery that have come to mean so much to me.
It’s an odd thing about Constable, that while we think of him as a painter of decorative English landscapes, a little old-fashioned and traditional maybe, many of his contemporaries criticised him for his modernity, his choice of subject matter and his (to them) overloose technique.
In fact, he, along with JMW Turner, were the two English artists who provided the inspiration for the French Impressionist movement, which began by outraging the French art establishment but then went on to revolutionise the whole western world’s perception of what art could do.
How could he or Turner ever know exactly what their impact on the history of art would be?
Not that I knew any of that when I stood before this painting all those years ago: I just thought it depicted a world I might like to live in. I quite envied the boy drinking out of the stream.




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