A pleasant sense of ease and harmony pervades this landscape of almost photographic clarity. The large areas of brilliant sunshine and cool shade, the rambling line of the fence, and the beautiful balance of trees, meadow, and river are evidence of the artist's creative synthesis of the actual site. The precision of Constable's brushwork, seen in the animals, birds, and people, lends importance to these smaller details.

Constable was a native of Suffolk, the county just north of Essex. His deep, consuming attachment to the landscape of this rural area is a constant factor in his works. His studies and sketchbooks reveal his complete absorption in the pictorial elements of his native countryside: the movement of cloud masses, the feel of the lowlands crossed by rivers and streams, and the dramatic play of light over all.

The commission for this painting came from Major-General Francis Slater Rebow, owner of Wivenhoe Park, who had been a close friend of Constable's father and was the artist's first important patron. This was not the first work Constable had done for the Rebows; in 1812 he had painted a full-length portrait of the couple's daughter, then aged seven. She can be seen in this painting riding in a donkey cart at the left.

More information on this painting can be found in the Gallery publication _British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries_, which is available as a free PDF <u>https://www.nga.gov/content/dam/ngaweb/research/publications/pdfs/british-paintings-16th-19th-centuries.pdf</u>


  • Title: Wivenhoe Park, Essex
  • Creator: John Constable
  • Date Created: 1816
  • Physical Dimensions: overall: 56.1 x 101.2 cm (22 1/16 x 39 13/16 in.) framed: 77.8 x 122.5 x 8.8 cm (30 5/8 x 48 1/4 x 3 7/16 in.)
  • Provenance: Painted for Major-General Francis Slater Rebow [1770-1845], Wivenhoe Park and Alresford Hall, near Colchester, Essex; by inheritance to his youngest daughter's second husband, John Gurdon Rebow [1799-1870]; by inheritance to his son with his second wife, Hector John Gurdon Rebow [1846-1931].[1] (Leo Nardus [1868-1955], Suresnes, France, and New York); purchased 1906 by Peter A.B. Widener, Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania;[2] inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park; gift 1942 to NGA. [1] In 1796, Francis Slater married Mary Hester Rebow (c. 1777-1834), heiress of Wivenhoe House and Park, and assumed his wife's family name. Slater Rebow was a friend of John Constable's father, and in 1812 Constable painted a portrait of Slater Rebow's youngest daughter, Mary Martin Slater Rebow (1805-1842). She was married twice, first to Sir Thomas Ormsby (d. 1833), and then to John Gurdon, who also took the name Rebow. After his wife's death, Gurdon Rebow married a second time, to Lady Georgina Toller, and their son, Hector, inherited Wivenhoe. The painting was likely sold before, or around, 1902, when he sold the house and park, as well as many of the other works of art owned by the family. See: Tim Gray, "Wivenhoe Park: History and Natural History," in Jonathan Clarkson and Neil Cox, eds., _Constable and Wivenhoe Park: Reality and Vision_, exh. cat. University of Essex Gallery, Colchester, 2000: 62-64; and Ross Watson, short essay on the painting, 2 September 1969, in NGA curatorial files. [2] The date of purchase, approximated by William Roberts in _Pictures in the Collection of P.A.B. Widener at Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. British and Modern French Schools_, privately printed, Philadelphia, 1915: unpaginated, is given as 1906 in notes written by Edith Standen, the Widener curator, in NGA curatorial files.
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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