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John Constable, The Cornfield

Key facts
Full title The Cornfield
Artist John Constable
Artist dates 1776 - 1837
Date made 1826
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 143 × 122 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by subscribers, including Wordsworth, Faraday and Sir William Beechey, 1837
Inventory number NG130
Location Room 34
Collection Main Collection
Acquisition funders
The Cornfield
John Constable

A boy has paused from the thirsty work of herding sheep at noon to lie flat on the bank of a pool and drink its cool water. This vision of a Suffolk lane in high summer was painted in January to March 1826 in Constable’s studio in London. The lane winding into the cornfield is based on Fen Lane, along which Constable had often walked as a boy from his own village of East Bergholt to Dedham, where he attended school. The lane still exists but the countryside shown beyond it was largely invented.

Constable exhibited the painting at the Royal Academy in 1826. Despite receiving critical praise, it failed to sell, either at the Royal Academy or at any of the four other exhibitions to which Constable sent it. A committee of friends and admirers finally bought The Cornfield and presented it to the National Gallery in 1837 as a tribute to Constable after his death.

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