Saturday, 19 November 2011

John Constable

One month before Constable turned nineteen and five years before he gave up the corn and coal trade for art, he painted this: 

John Constable: A Kiln on the Hornsey Road

It's a water-colour on lined paper, measures 20 x 23 cm and sold for £12,650 in 1999.

That's all I can find out about it, without going to the British Library and trawling books. Constable painted many many sketches like this and most haven't had much written about them.

I wonder, though, why he chose to paint the kiln rather than just the countryside.

There had been brick kilns in North London since the sixteenth century, and tile kilns since around 1800. They brought trouble (rogues and vagabonds) and coughed up millions of bricks a year.

So this wouldn't have been novel, and it wouldn't have been idyllic. It feels like, at eighteen,  he went looking for working countryside rather than landscape.

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