John Constable - The Hay WainOil on canvas, 1821, 130 x 185 cm, National Gallery in London

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Description and interpretation of the famous painting 'The Hay Wain' by John Constable!

John Constable - The Hay Wain

It is probably the best-known picture of the Englishman John Constables: A hay cart is pulled through the shallow water by two black horses. With only a few the white metal edges of the wheels are indicated. The destination of the trip can be seen at the back right of the field. There are workers there who mow and load hay.

The brushstroke is alive. At the time the cottage was built, the old farmer Willy Lot must still have lived after the cottage was named on the left. The cottage can also be found in another painting by the painter. He lived here for 80 years and later went deaf. He must have been a difficult and eccentric contemporary. In this picture, however, he plays a subordinate role. Not he, but a woman, steps out of the cottage to draw water. On the vertical one below is a small dog, whose gaze also directs the viewer's gaze to the hay wagon. Constable only added it at the end of the painting process. It is also a compositional counterweight to the hay wagon. At the right edge an angler stretches his face out of the bushes into the picture. He throws out his rod, his boat floating in front of him on the calm water.

The painter's interest in moving nature and man in harmony with it is unmistakable. For the studies on this work, Constable often set out to sketch the events on site. This is how he masterfully captures the moving sky. For example, it captures on the left the thick, puffy clouds typical of this part of England between Suffolk and Essex. On the right, on the other hand, the sky is clearing. The sun is falling through the clouds.

Constable was not as successful during his lifetime as we would assume today - rather, he experienced constant rejection, which made him very uncomfortable. For a long time he could not find a buyer for the hay cart either. For landscape painting was a rather young subject, for whose recognition Constable strove. Today a nostalgia is read into his pictures, which was probably not created in this way.

© the artinspector / alexandra tuschka