A Mill Near Colchester

John Constable British

Not on view

John Constable created resonant images of rural England. A determined "naturalist," he restricted himself to familiar scenery and refused to idealize but often used experimental techniques. This drawing, made in the 1830s, was painted freely and with intensity. A hilltop mill dominates the composition, its sails reefed in for blustery conditions. The strength of the wind is suggested by the scudding clouds and the dancing leaves on the foreground tree. To create the layout, Constable consulted sketches made at the site some fifteen years earlier. He then added somber tones in the densely worked foreground and contrasted them with thin blue washes in the sky and background. Vigorous scratching with a knife produced the sparkling highlights that suggest a burst of sunlight over forms washed by rain. Constable clearly valued this drawing, since he gave a copy to the artist Charles Robert Leslie to mark the latter's departure for America in 1833. In 1845 the composition was engraved in mezzotint by David Lucas an included in the appendix to "Various Subjects of Landscape, Characteristic of English Scenery."

A Mill Near Colchester, John Constable (British, East Bergholt 1776–1837 Hampstead), Watercolor over traces of graphite, with scratching out and a touch of pen and brown ink on the horizon, evidence of squaring for transfer in graphite, with a color wash test verso

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