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In this episode, Restorer Paul Ackroyd shows the effects of removing the discoloured 80-year-old varnish from 'The Hay Wain', including some of the painting's small details which have been made clearer during the process. 

About the painting 

'The Hay Wain' is one of the most popular paintings in the National Gallery. Painted in 1821 by the English landscape artist, John Constable, the view is of the millpond at Flatford on the River Stour. Flatford Mill was a watermill for grinding corn, operated by Constable's, family for nearly a hundred years. The painting's title, 'The Hay Wain', refers to the wooden wagon (wain) used for transporting cut and dried meadow grass (hay).

Although Constable's pictures are extremely popular today – 'The Hay Wain' arguably his most famous – they were not particularly well received in England during his lifetime. Constable did, however, have considerable success in Paris, and he was awarded a gold medal by the French king, Charles X, at the Paris Salon in 1824, chiefly for 'The Hay Wain.' The medal is now in the National Gallery Archives

Learn more about the painting and zoom into the details.

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