Born in 1776 in East Anglia near the river Stour, John Constable was destined for his father's business of milling and grain-shipping. But he was obdurately opposed to this and persuaded his family he should become an artist instead. In the same determined spirit, he wooed Maria Bicknell in the teeth of opposition from her formidable grandfather, and persisted in painting landscapes at a time when history paintings and portraits were the fashion.
Sometimes sharp and sarcastic, and often depressed, Constable in fact possessed a warm gift for intimate friendship. This is revealed in his letters to John Dunthorne, village handyman and housepainter, and to his best friend and patron, archdeacon John Fisher, to whom he wrote: 'I have a kingdom of my own, both fertile and populous - my landscape and my children'.
In recent times, after a period of relative ignominy, Constable's influence on British landscape painting has been re-acknowledged, he has been more widely exhibited and his reputation has been reestablished as one of the masters of his genre. This important and absorbing biography explores his life and work, and highlights the dramatic tension between the two.
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 485 g
Dimensions: 215 x 153 x 28 mm
"Bailey performs the chronicler's task with a novelist's heart, which is why he is the pleasing biographer that he is... A picture slowly emerges of a reactionary who became a revolutionary by default... It's a picture I find utterly convincing" -- Waldemar Januszczak * Sunday Times *
"Extremely readable" -- Charles Saumarez Smith * Observer *
"As with his earlier book on Vermeer, Bailey's genius lies in finding a literary equivalent for his subject's style. He doesn't just describe Constable's pictures, he writes them, each spare word like a stroke of the artist's brush... lovely" -- Charles Darwent * Independent on Sunday *
"[Bailey] has lifted the lids on all the pies, pulled out the plums and served them up in a different and toothsome order... Judicious. The portrait that emerges is rounded, attractive and entertaining" -- Brian Lynch * Irish Times *
"If, for you, the joy of reading is being absorbed into another world, this elegant and detailed life of painter John Constable, the first since 1843, will not disappoint. Anthony's style is deceptively cool, almost unobtrusive... This sensitive book resonates with respect and admiration, treating the man with humanity and demolishing for ever the "chocolate box" frivolity surrounding Constable's name and work" -- Jeffrey Taylor * Sunday Express *