DETAIL: John CONSTABLE,  Great Britain 1776 � 1837  'Harwich Lighthouse' c.1820 oil on canvas Tate, London, gift of Maria Louisa Constable, Isabel Constable and Lionel Bicknell Constable in 1888 Tate, London 2005
John CONSTABLE | A country lane, with a church in the distance

Great Britain 1776 – 1837
A country lane, with a church in the distance
[formerly known as Stoke-by-Nayland]
oil on paper laid on canvas
26.7 (h) x 18.4 (w) cm
private collection
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Following his father’s death in May 1816 Constable spent time at East Bergholt in July and August. In this oil sketch he depicted the footpath  to Stratford St Mary with four figures, including a man with a red coat and black hat standing in the hedgerow beneath a tall English elm tree. For some time this work was considered to be a view of Stoke-by-Nayland, but recently Ian St John has identified the off-white stone of the church shining in the early afternoon sun as that of Stratford St Mary, and observed that the flowers in the right foreground are the red of the field poppy, the blue of chicory, the yellow of cat’s ear and the white of musk mallow (St John 2002, p. 7). In his biography of Constable, Andrew Shirley remarked:

Whether by conscious habit or nature, he was always a leisured walker; he gave himself time to take in the small beauties of hedge, wildflower and water reed (Shirley 1949, p. 33).

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