came to dominate English landscape painting in the late 19th century. At the time of his death he was relatively unknown, but admiration for the freshness of his English landscapes soared during the Victorian period. He was born in East Bergholt, Suffolk, a village that he made famous through his scenes of local rural life, and he remained passionately fond of the Suffolk countryside throughout his career. As a young man Constable learned about the practicalities of farming from his father, but showed an enthusiasm for painting, and a marked reluctance to follow in his father's trade. He worked constantly at improving his sketching, and in his mid-20's began to develop his own realistic style. He showed the same sense of purpose in his courtship of Maria Bicknell, whom he married against the wishes of her family. In the years following their marriage he produced his best work, often of Suffolk scenes, including Stratford Mill (1820), The Hay-wain (1821), and View on the Stour near Dedham (1822). As Maria's health failed he painted more somber views with stormy skies--Hadleigh Castle (1829) and Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (1831).
was the delicate, sickly daughter of a middle-class professional London family. She fell in love with John Constable in 1809, but her family opposed a union with an impecunious artist, and their objections delayed the marriage until 1816. The couple established a home in London, but beginning in 1819 Maria's health failed steadily, and they took houses in Hampstead and Brighton in an effort to move Maria out of the city to places where the air was cleaner. The seven children that she bore during her 12 year marriage must also have taken a heavy toll on her health. Maria died of tuberculosis in November 1828.