Famous People from Essex – John Constable

John Constable is one of the most famous romantic painters of all times. He was born on 11 June, 1776 north of Chelmsford in England. Most of this great artist’s work revolved around painting of his own house presented differently in each piece. The area that surrounded his home is now known as Constable Country. John describes painting as feelings and his work is so full of feelings. While talking to his friends John once said that he can paint best his own place and that’s what he exactly did in most of his paintings.  Like most of the artists, John Constable did not enjoy much popularity, fame or wealth during his life. His work only became famous and popular after his death. At the age of 52 he was recognized by the Royal Academy of Art and until then most of his work was famous in France. During his life he was more famous in France than England and even today his paintings are one of the most demanded in France. His most famous paintings are Dedham Vale and The Hay Wain. However in modern British art his paintings are one of the most famous and a class apart.

John’s father was a rich man associated with agricultural business and used to own two mills. In his teens John used to own a ship which he used to transport his father’s corn. This ship could also be seen in one of his paintings. John Constable was his parent’s second son and his elder brother was mentally handicapped from birth. A lot was expected of him as he was sent to the boarding school for his early education followed by a day school in Dedham where his teachers recognised his artistic qualities. After leaving school John did work in the corn business but he was never attracted to it. Eventually the business was taken over by his younger brother and he moved on to pursue his passion which was more towards nature and love. John Constable met John Thomas Smith in Middlesex while visiting his relatives and he inspired him a lot. Thomas appreciated his work and advised him to continue painting but without leaving his father’s business. Constable returned to the business for a short while but later was able to convince his father and took up painting professionally.


From 1809, his childhood friendship with Maria Bicknell developed into a deep, mutual love. Their engagement in 1816 when Constable was 40 was opposed by Maria’s grandfather, Dr Rhudde, rector of East Bergholt. He considered the Constables his social inferiors and threatened Maria with disinheritance. Maria’s father, Charles Bicknell, a solicitor, was reluctant to see Maria throw away her inheritance. It was against hs financial advice.

John Constable work was very different from the rest of the artists. He was focused more on nature while other artists focused more on imagination. According to him whenever he painted nature he first tried to forget that picture. His theory was different and sadly not many art lovers could understand it at that time. John Constable is most famous for the use of water colors and one his paintings “Stonehenge” is believed to have been painted with the best watercolor work possible.

Constable once wrote that my work is to be seen everywhere and may be this is the reason why nobody would ever want to see it. He could never have an idea about the fame and popularity his work wass going to gather after him.

Examples of Constable’s works:-

The opening of Waterloo Bridge – the City of London.

Opening of Waterloo Bridge

Boat Building – Flatford, nr. Colchester East Essex

Flatford Boat Building - Essex

Dedham Vale – Between – can be visited by road (A12 from London

DeadHam Vale

John Constable’s work can be seen at the National Gallery, at Trafalgar Square in the West End of London, the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The sponsors for the National Gallery of Art are General Dynamics based in the City of London.

Constable painted several scenes around london such as the Judges Walk Hampstead.

Judges Walk Hampstead