Wivenhoe Park (painting)

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Wivenhoe Park, Essex
John Constable - Wivenhoe Park, Essex
ArtistJohn Constable
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions56.1 cm × 101.2 cm (22.1 in × 39.8 in)
LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA

Wivenhoe Park is a painting of an English landscape park, the estate of the Rebow family, by the English Romantic painter, John Constable (1776–1837).[1][2]

John Constable was born in Suffolk, and is known principally for his landscape paintings, especially the landscapes of the countryside where he spent his childhood. His paintings are now considered among the most popular and valuable in British art.[3][4]


The National Gallery of Art holds this painting as one of its highlights:[3]

A pleasant sense of ease and harmony pervades this landscape of almost photographic clarity. The large areas of brilliant sunshine and cool shade, the rambling line of the fence, and the beautiful balance of trees, meadow, and river are evidence of the artist's creative synthesis of the actual site.

The painting was commissioned by the owner of Wivenhoe Park, Major General Francis Slater-Rebow, who was among the artist's first patrons, being a close friend of the artist's father, Golding Constable. Wivenhoe Park is 200 acres (81 ha) of parkland, purchased by the Rebow family before 1734.[5][6] Slater-Rebow commissioned several paintings from Constable, including a portrait of the general's seven-year-old daughter in 1812. She also figures in this painting, in a donkey cart to the left. This painting, finished in September 1816, earned the artist enough money to allow him to marry his long-time love, Mary Bicknell. They married in October 1816.[3][7]

Constable's art is always penetrated by longing, melancholy and a yearning for the simple, natural life, for a bucolic, pastoral idyll, to rural subjects and aspects of life in the countryside, a "golden age" when people lived together in harmony with nature, a world on its way of disappearing when he painted his landscapes thanks to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. He was aware of the issue of urban growth, of urban life's unpleasantness, which he contrasted to life in the countryside. Constable's art was rather unconventional for his time, and he loved simple things, a natural landscape without the ruins, dramatic effects or exalted, often excessive feelings, like the ones displayed in the paintings of his contemporary, J. M. W. Turner. His landscapes are flooded by a silvery brilliant light in the water and air and in the sky, and are characterised by a special intensity that is such an important feature of this artist's works.[8]

External video
John Constable - Wivenhoe Park, Essex - Google Art Project.jpg
video icon Wivenhoe Park
video icon Constable A Country Rebel BBC Documentary 2014



  1. ^ "permanent_collection_john_constable". dcist.com. Archived from the original on 7 May 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2014. Re-Retrieved 12 March 2017
  2. ^ [“No two days are alike, nor even two hours; neither was there ever two leaves of tree alike since the creation of the world.” So said John Constable (1776–1837), regarded by many as England’s greatest landscape painter. His work Wivenhoe Park, Essex (1816) at the National Gallery of Art vibrates with the verdant essence of the countryside. Constable’s studies, sketchbooks and paintings all reveal the profound connection he felt to the landscapes of his native Suffolk and the surrounding counties. Quote from Aleid Ford's project, Art 2010, for DCist online magazine for the Washington DC USA area. Ford is a staff member of DCist.]
  3. ^ a b c Collection Highlights. "Wivenhoe Park, Essex". nga.gov. National Gallery of Art. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  4. ^ [Major-General Rebow, a friend of Constable’s father, commissioned the artist to capture the beauty of his estate, inviting him to spend some weeks on the premises. General Rebow specified that certain features be included in the painting. Constable arranged these harmoniously, modifying the actual location of certain elements (for example, the house and lake were not actually part of the same view). Typically, the owner of such a house might wish for a more grandiose portrait of it, but Constable preferred the everyday poetry of landscape and sky. Quote from Aleid Ford's project, Art 2010.]
  5. ^ Marsden, Pat. "Wivenhoe House: A Tale of Two Lost 18th Century Mansions and the Sea-Captains who Built Them" (PDF). Wivenhoe Encyclopedia. Eugene Kraft. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Guide to Colchester Campus". essex.ac.uk. Essex University. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  7. ^ [The painting was a important project for Constable on a personal level: He needed the income the commission generated in order to provide for his longtime love, Maria Bicknell, and enable them to marry with the approval of her parents, who opposed the match for a number of years. Wivenhoe Park, Essex was finished by September 1816, and Bicknell and Constable were at last married on October 2, 1816. Quote from Aleid Ford's project, Art 2010.]
  8. ^ Beckett (1994), p. 268


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