how did constable handle the application of paint in the hay wain
The Hay Wain is one of a series of paintings by Constable called the “six-footers”, large-scale canvasses which he painted for the annual summer exhibitions at the Royal Academy. As with all of the paintings in this series Constable produced a full-scale oil sketch for the work; this is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Constable originally exhibited the finished work with the title Landscape: Noon, suggesting that he envisaged it as belonging to the classical landscape tradition of representing the cycles of nature. 
The painting measures 130.2 cm × 185.4 cm ( 51 1 ⁄4 in × 73 in). 
The paintings all depict incidents in the working life of the River Stour, usually shown at noon. The White Horse 1819, (the first of the ‘six-footers’) shows a horse being ferried across the river. It was a critical success and Constable was voted an Associate of the Royal Academy on the strength of it. The Hay Wain 1821, with its focus on the hay cart under dense clusters of clouds, evokes a specific midday moment as the vehicle turns towards the distant fields.
In preparation for these monumental six-footers Constable made full-size preliminary sketches in oil paint. These helped him to work out his composition and ideas before tackling the final canvas. This unique practice is unprecedented in the history of Western art, and one that has shown him to be distinctly ‘modern’ in his approach. Today these full-scale sketches are admired just as much as the final exhibition pieces.
Fisher is also implicated in the other, more public, sphere of meaning that art historians have perceived in the painting. In the same letter in which he gave encouragement to Constable to begin work on the six-foot painting in Salisbury, dated August 1829, Fisher wrote: ‘I am quite sure the “Church under a cloud” is the best subject you can take’.50 Given that Constable’s difficulties with his earlier painting of the cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s Grounds, had revolved around the ‘dark cloud’ that proved unacceptable to the Bishop, this phrase could resonate as motivation to the artist to further develop his thesis on the atmospheric charge that storm clouds gave to the cathedral landscape. However, the context of agitation for constitutional reform, which gathered pace in the 1820s, and the anti-reform ideology shared by the two men, galvanises the potential for the painting to be cast as a self-consciously public statement on a highly contentious and topical matter, as historian Brian Young discusses in more detail in another section of this In Focus.51
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Salisbury Cathedral from the East c.1798
Tate D00668, Turner Bequest XXVII G
Photo © Tate
5. Why was this painting better received in France than in England?
After the Royal Academy exhibition Constable sent this painting along with others to France, where he was asked to exhibit a number of pieces at the Paris Salon in 1824, it was considerably better received in France where it caused a sensation. In that exhibition, The Hay Wain was singled out for a gold medal awarded by Charles X of France, a cast of which is incorporated into the picture’s frame. The works by Constable in the exhibition inspired a new generation of French painters, including Eugène Delacroix and Camille Corot. Eugène Delacroix was apparently so struck by Constable’s use of broken colour and flickering light that he repainted the background of his dramatic masterpiece Scenes from the Massacres of Chios 1824. When Delacroix visited London in 1825 it is probable that he paid a visit to Constable’s studio, as his journal includes an accurate account of Constable’s technique. Constable’s approach also inspired artists to work directly from everyday life and use nature as the main subject of their painting, rather than simply as a backdrop for dramatic classical or historic scenes. They began to venture out of Paris and into the countryside to work directly from the landscape. A main destination was the Forest of Fontainbleu, an easy train-ride from Paris. One of the villages on the edge of the forest, Barbizon, became a popular place for artists to stay during their sketching trips. These artists, including Theodore Rousseau and Camille Corot, later became known as the Barbizon School. The Barbizon painters also responded to Constable’s handling of paint. The broad strokes and loose marks in Constable’s paintings seemed to record the vigorous movements of the artist’s hand, unlike academic conventions which tended to suppress those kinds of traces. Another artist associated with the School, Jean-Francois Millet, added a human dimension to this new approach to landscape painting. In paintings such as The Gleaners 1857, farm workers are shown harvesting or labouring within the landscape. There is no drama or narrative, simply the documenting of everyday life. This type of work belongs to a movement known as ‘realism’
The photograph he is said to have glued to the masterpiece was said by Fathers4Justice to be that of his 11-year-old son. Manning is said to have lost a final custody appeal two weeks ago before Lord Justice Thorpe, an Appeal Court judge and the head International Family Justice.
The attack, however, is the second on a work of art in a fortnight, coming after a painting of the queen by Ralph Heimans was vandalised with spray paint in Westminster Abbey in what was believed to be a Fathers4Justice protest. Tim Haries, 41, went before Southwark Crown Court in London with criminal damage to canvas.