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John Constable RA, Landscape Study: Cottage and Rainbow

Landscape Study: Cottage and Rainbow, ca. 1808-16

John Constable RA (1776 - 1837)

RA Collection: Art

On free display in Collection Gallery

After around 1808 Constable began painting oil sketches outdoors near his family home in the Suffolk countryside. This sketch was painted at East Bergholt, Suffolk, and the cottage with its extensively-thatched roof is carefully recorded by Constable. Although difficult to date the sketch was probably made between 1808 and 1816, when Constable spent his summers in Suffolk and Essex. This was the time when Constable was most regularly sketching his native scenery

This quick study is one of the first times Constable painted a double rainbow, something that later became one of his favourite images. He wrote that there was 'no feature more lovely or more soothing' than a rainbow. This same joy was expressed by the romantic poet William Wordsworth in his 1807 poem The Rainbow:

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)
ca. 1808-16
Object type
Oil on paper laid on board, brown ground

139 mm x 215 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Given by Isabel Constable 1888

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