john constable the hay wain
The painting measures 130.2 cm × 185.4 cm ( 51 1 ⁄4 in × 73 in). 
Sold at the exhibition with three other Constables to the dealer John Arrowsmith, The Hay Wain was brought back to England by another dealer, D. T. White; he sold it to a Mr. Young who resided in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. It was there that the painting came to the attention of the collector Henry Vaughan and the painter Charles Robert Leslie.  On the death of his friend Mr. Young, Vaughan bought the painting from the former’s estate; in 1886 he presented it to the National Gallery in London, where it still hangs today.  In his will Vaughan bequeathed the full-scale oil sketch for The Hay Wain, made with a palette knife, to the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum). 
It seems incredible in the modern era that landscape painting ever struggled for acceptance but this was very much the case for artist John Constable who was up against the more accepted artist topics of religious scenes and commission-based portraits of rich noblemen and families.
Within the career that he did have, though, there is a great list of extraordinary paintings and preparatory sketches still remaining that make his career considerable in depth and quality alike.
John Constable, Study for ‘The Hay Wain’, about 1821. Museum no. 987-1888
‘Painting is with me but another word for feeling’
– John Constable
The patches of direct sunlight hitting the land in the background are useful for creating a sense of depth in the painting. Your eyes are drawn through the dark foreground towards this light area.
The tree trunks and branches were painted with soft edges and what appears to be a smooth texture. This helps them recede amongst the dense leaves. Also, notice the linework used for the smaller tree branches.
The different tones all complement each other and are repeated to add harmony to this piece: the blue of the pool is reflected in the sky and the red of the house is highlighted subtly in the trees and in the harness of the horse.
Through family friends and business associates Constable was exposed to what was considered the best art of his day and this led to him developing his own painting style which is illustrated in The Hay Wain.