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John Constable, Stratford Mill

Key facts
Full title Stratford Mill
Artist John Constable
Artist dates 1776 - 1837
Date made 1820
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 127 × 182.9 cm
Acquisition credit Presented to the National Gallery under the acceptance-in-lieu procedure, 1987
Inventory number NG6510
Location On loan: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, Chimei Museum, Tainan City, Taiwan
Collection Main Collection
Stratford Mill
John Constable

Stratford Mill was the second of the six monumental paintings of the Stour landscape Constable exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1819 and 1825, a group that includes The Hay Wain (National Gallery, London).

Stratford Mill was a water-powered paper mill (now demolished) on the River Stour near East Bergholt, Suffolk. Constable shows the mill in shadow, while shafts of sunlight play between the trees beside the meandering river. A dying willow leans over the glassy water and we glimpse a distant sunlit farmhouse. A girl watches a boy cast his fishing line into the water, and it looks as though the angler to their left has just got a bite.

After Constable’s death, the painting became known as ‘The Young Waltonians’, a reference to Izaak Walton’s book on fishing, The Compleat Angler, published in 1653.

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