Constable Paintings


Paintings Reproductions Constable, John The Hay Wain, 1821
Constable Paintings 1776 - 1837  England, Romanticism

The Hay Wain, 1821

Oil on canvas

National Gallery, London


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OIL PAINTING:  The Hay Wain, 1821

      The Hay Wain is an oil on canvas painting by John Constable. It was finished in 1821 and shows a hay wain near Flatford Mill on the River Stour at Flatford, Suffolk.
      Flatford Mill was owned by Constable's father and the house on the left side belonged to a neighbour, Willy Lott (a tenant farmer), who was said to have been born in the house and never to have left it for more than four days in his lifetime. Willy Lott's house has survived to this day practically unaltered, but none of the original trees in the painting exist today. The water level is also higher as that area of East Anglia has sunk into the sea by 30cm since Constable's time.
      The Hay Wain is revered today as one of the greatest British paintings, but when it was originally exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1821 (under the title Landscape: Noon) it failed to find a buyer. It was considerably better received in France where it was praised by Thodore Gricault. The painting caused a sensation when it was exhibited with other oil paintings by Constable at the 1824 Paris Salon (it has been suggested that the inclusion of Constable's paintings in the exhibition were a tribute to Gricault, who died early that year). In that exhibition The Hay Wain was singled out for a gold medal awarded by Charles X of France, a cast of which is incorporated into the picture's frame. The paintings by Constable in the exhibition inspired a new generation of French painters, including Eugne Delacroix.
      The Hay Wain was voted the second best painting in Britain in a 2005 poll organised by the Today programme in September 2005. It is currently exhibited at the National Gallery in London.