John Constable RA, Landscape Study: Cottage and Rainbow

Landscape Study: Cottage and Rainbow, 12 July 1829

John Constable RA (1776 - 1837)

RA Collection: Art

The sketch is inscribed on the back in pencil in the artist's hand: 'Sunday July 12/ 1829/ Salisbury.' There is a transcript of this inscription in ink: 'Sunday July 12 1829/ Salisbury'.

The sketch was made while Constable was staying with his friend Archdeacon Fisher in Salisbury. It is one of two sketches that the artist is known to have made that day, the other being V&A Collection:

John Constable A View at Salisbury, from the library at Archdeacon Fisher's house, 12 July 1829, oil on paper V&A Collection (Museum number: 153-1888).

A double rainbow became one of the artist's favourite motifs. A rainbow was a symbol of the transitory nature of life, as it was beautiful to behold but often only visible for fleeting moments. The romantic poet William Wordsworth published his poem The Rainbow in 1807:

My heart leaps up when I behold

A Rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;

So is it now I am a Man;

So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!

Constable himself wrote in his volume of mezzotints of English Landscape Scenery in 1833: 'Nature, in all the varied aspects of her beauty, exhibits no feature more lovely nor any that awaken a more soothing reflection than the rainbow'.

Further Reading

G. Reynolds, The Early Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, New Haven and London, 1996, Text Vol. p.175, cat. 12:55, Plates Vol. pl. 980.

Anne Gray and John Gage, Constable: Impressions of Land, Sea and Sky, exh. cat., National Gallery of Australia, 2006, p.120

Object details

Landscape Study: Cottage and Rainbow
John Constable RA (1776 - 1837)
12 July 1829
Object type
Place of Production
Oil on laminated paper (comprising 3 x layers: tissue, mid layer, dark blue paper backing)

139 mm x 215 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Given by Isabel Constable 1888

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