John Constable:
Wivenhoe Park (Detail from the Left Side)

Click on the picture to see an enlarged version.

    • Oil on canvas
    • 1816
    • National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Constable never went abroad, and his finest works are of the places he knew and loved best, particularly thos in his home county of Suffolk and neighboring Hampstead, where he lived from 1821. This painting is a detail from a much larger work, a piece commisioned by the owner of this handsome estate, Wivenhoe Park, in Essex.

Landscape gardening in England had developed a unique approach, radically different from the formal gardens so greatly prized in France and continental Europe. In England, ever since the early 18th century, gardens were artificially created to imitate wild nature. Thus in this scene, the landscape architect has created a lake, planted clumps of trees in picturesque spots, and included farm animals as part of the landscape. It all looks so very natural, but is in fact the result of years and years of planning, prunning, and construction.

The Great House is just barely visible on the top of the hill in the background.

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