The Landscape Series

The Hay Wain (1821)

John Constable

National Gallery, London

The Hay Wain.jpg


Date painted: 1821
Period: Romanticism
How originally painted: Oil on canvas
Size: 4’ 3” x 6’ 1”
Where on display: National Gallery, London

The Artist:

John Constable (1776--1837) was an English landscape painter in the Romantic tradition. Born in Suffolk, England, he is known principally for revolutionizing the genre of landscape painting with his pictures of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home – now known as "Constable Country”. Constable's most famous paintings include Wivenhoe Park (1816), Dedham Vale (1821), and The Hay Wain (1821).

 The Art:

The Hay Wain was originally titled Landscape: Noon. It is a painting that Constable finished in 1821. It shows the viewer a rural scene on the River Stour which is located between the English counties of Suffolk and Essex.  The painting hangs in the National Gallery in London. It is regarded as Constable's most famous image, and one of the greatest and most popular English paintings.

The Oxbow (1836)
Thomas Cole
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, City

Kindred Spirits.jpg


Date painted: 1836
How originally painted: Oil on canvas
Size: ​51 1⁄2 × 76 inches
Where on display: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, City

The Artist:

Thomas Cole (1801--1848) was America's leading landscape painter during the first half of the nineteenth century. He was born in 1801, in Bolton-le-Moor, England. He and his family came to the United States in 1818. Cole's death in 1848, at the age of forty-seven was universally mourned. A comprehensive memorial exhibition of his works was quickly organized in New York. His influence on the course of American landscape painting was profound. His work influenced numerous younger painters as they matured, most notably American landscape painters Jasper F. Cropsey, and Frederic Edwin Church.

The Art:

Usually referred to as The Oxbow, this painting shows two very different aspects of the American landscape. On the left of the canvas, dense grey clouds hang over a forest of green trees; to the right, the Connecticut River meanders gently through cultivated fields under a blue sky.

A key painting in Cole's oeuvre, and arguably his best-known work, The Oxbow was created at a time when Cole was largely occupied with his Course of Empire series. His patron, Luman Reed advised him to take a break from that series, as Cole seemed to be showing signs of depression, and to return to the genre of Romantic landscape painting which he loved foremost.