About this artwork

Constable's dramatic landscape leads your eye across the Suffolk countryside, along the winding River Stour, to Dedham village and the estuary beyond. This view from Gun Hill looking towards Dedham church, near his father's watermill, was a favourite subject and also features in a smaller painting of 1802 (Victoria and Albert Museum). The composition, with prominent foreground trees, was partially inspired by Claude's 'Hagar and the Angel' (National Gallery, London). The cloudy sky and details are, however, based on Constable's close observation of nature. He applied paint thickly with touches of white to enhance the effect of shimmering light. This painting prompted his election to the Royal Academy in 1829.

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  • title: The Vale of Dedham
  • accession number: NG 2016
  • artist: John ConstableEnglish (1776 - 1837)
  • gallery: Scottish National Gallery(On Display)
  • object type: Painting
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1828
  • measurements: 144.50 x 122.00 cm (framed: 184.80 x 163.20 x 14.00 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased with the aid of The Cowan Smith Bequest and the Art Fund 1944
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

John Constable

John Constable

Constable introduced a new and refreshing naturalism into British nineteenth-century landscape painting. He concentrated on depicting the Suffolk countryside around his birthplace, although also painted in Salisbury and Hampstead. Constable never travelled abroad. His compositions and interest in light effects were influenced by Claude Lorrain's classical landscapes, but he rejected the mellow tones and smooth finish of 'old masters', favouring broken, richly textures brushwork. Constable observed nature intently, studying its ever-changing appearances through pencil drawings and vigorous oil sketches. He eventually received official recognition as a full member of the Royal Academy in 1829.