John Constable:
Stratford Mill

Click on the picture to see an enlarged version.

    • Oil on canvas, 56 1/4 x 48 inches
    • 1826
    • National Gallery of Art, London

In this wonderful landscape, Constable departs from his usual river scene to paint a path through a dense wood, leading out to a field ripe with grain. In England, all grain is called "corn," hence the name of the painting is The Cornfield. It is not, of course our corn, which the British call maize, or Indian corn.

Constable's touch of red, this time, is found on the vest of a young shepherd who has temporarily abandoned his sheep to the care of the dog, while he crouches down on his stomach to examine a little creek, and perhaps take a drink. The sheep are hidden in the shadows, as are the workers in the field beyond, who are cutting down the ripened grain.

Despite the care with which Constable has composed the scene -- the artful arches of the trees and the glaring sunlight on the grain are outstanding -- the impression is of a "spot of time," a unique glimpse that will never return. This was Constable's aim: to show nature and humans in a moment of time.

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