“Hampstead Heath” by John Constable
“Hampstead Heath” by John Constable is a watercolour view looking at the panoramic views that were visible in every direction in the open spaces of then-rural Hampstead. Constable enjoyed painting at Hampstead which allowed him to escape London’s summer heat. This watercolour is part of the nearly one hundred sketches he made there, in which he attempted to capture the variable sky and its atmospherics. Constable referred to the practice of painting these works as “skying” where he used the landscape to portray a sense of scale and depth.
Constable completed numerous studies of landscapes and clouds, determined to become scientific in his recording of atmospheric conditions. One critic wrote:
“the atmosphere possesses a characteristic humidity about it, that almost imparts the wish for an umbrella”.
To these sky studies, he added notes, often on the back of the sketches, of the prevailing weather conditions.
John Constable was an English Romantic painter known principally for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home which he painted with a passion. Although his paintings are now popular and valuable, he was not financially successful during his lifetime. His work was more popular in France, where he sold more works than in his native England and which helped inspired the Barbizon school.
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“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
– William Shakespeare
Photo Credit: 1) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons