Media related to The Hay Wain at Wikimedia Commons
The painting measures 130.2 cm × 185.4 cm ( 51 1 ⁄4 in × 73 in). 
The forward kinetic motion of the participants moves the viewer from present-day sin into unadulterated torture in the realms of Hell. The procession on the left side of this panel bends back into the middle ground, but the right side figures continue in a straight line with the wagon, a more evident progress into damnation. 
The exterior of the shutters, like most contemporary Netherlandish triptychs, were also painted, although in this case Bosch used full colors instead of the usual grisaille. When closed, they form a single scene depicting a wayfarer. Around him is a series of miniatures including the robbery of another wayfarer and a hanged man. The man uses a stick to repel a dog.
Constable himself did not call this picture The Hay Wain – it was a nickname given to it by his friend Archdeacon Fisher. When it was sent to the Royal Academy in 1821 with its given title ’ Landscape: Noon ‘, it was greeted favourably by reviewers. The Examiner declared that it ’approaches nearer to the actual look of rural nature than any modern landscape whatever‘. However, it did not sell. Constable was probably unaware at the time that two French visitors to England – the artist Géricault and the writer Nodier – had seen his painting in the Royal Academy. According to Delacroix, Géricault returned to France ’quite stunned‘ by Constable’s picture. Nodier suggested that French artists should similarly look to nature rather than relying on journeys to Rome for inspiration (by this he meant emulating the classicising landscapes, painted by artists such as Claude).
Scenes showing a cart going through a ford recur in seventeenth-century Flemish and Dutch landscape paintings. Constable admired these works for their depiction of the natural rather than classicising landscape that were fashionable in his day. The 1838 sale of Constable’s pictures that took place after his death included two landscapes by Jan van Goyen, one with travellers in a cart, one with wagons descending a hill. Constable was probably encouraged that Flemish painters had made such unheroic events the subjects of their pictures. He had also studied Rubens’s An Autumn Landscape with a View of Het Steen and admired it greatly. The oddly Flemish appearance of the wagon and the breadth of the composition in The Haywain may owe something to Rubens’s influence. The wagon does not conform to the usual design of hay wagons or carts of Constable’s period – its sides are too low for carting hay and it appears more suited to carrying timber. It is also very close to Rubens’s chalk study of a hay cart for Return from the Harvest (Staatliche Museen, Berlin). However, Constable did not generally copy the work of other artists directly, preferring to pursue a way of painting ’founded on original observation of nature‘.
‘Painting is with me but another word for feeling’
– John Constable
Constable, the son of a prosperous miller, was born in 1776 at East Bergholt, Suffolk, and it was in this area of the Stour Valley on the Suffolk – Essex border that he spent most of his life. He began his professional career as a student at the Royal Academy Schools and spent his early years absorbing the influence of Gainsborough’s landscape drawings, Claude’s classical compositions and Rubens’s stormy skies and rainbows, as well as the landscapes of the 17th century Dutch painters, above all, Jacob Ruisdael.
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G. FernГЎndez – theartwolf.com