the hay wain john constable
The Hay Wain – originally titled Landscape: Noon – is a painting by John Constable, finished in 1821, which depicts a rural scene on the River Stour between the English counties of Suffolk and Essex.   It hangs in the National Gallery in London and is regarded as “Constable’s most famous image”  and one of the greatest and most popular English paintings. 
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 Haywain by John Constable is a British landscape oil painting which remains his best known and finest work. This page is devoted to this famous painting and offers information on it as well as coverage of the artist’s career in general as well.
The Haywain itself was created by John Constable in 1821 at the height of his skills and experience. It is a crying shaming that he was to pass away at only 60, just 16 years after he produced The Haywain when surely any further years would likely have included many more classic British landscape paintings.
The title, The Hay Wain , refers to the wooden wagon (wain) used for transporting cut and dried meadow grass (hay). The empty wagon is making its way through the shallow water to cross to the meadow on the other side where haymakers are at work.
The small empty boat on the right is based on a study Constable made in 1809 – already used in The White Horse (National Gallery of Art, Washington) in 1819 and later used again in Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh) of 1831. It demonstrates Constable’s economy with his source materials, his instinct for local detail and his ability to balance a composition – for small though it is, the boat balances the house on the left and the hay wagon in the centre. The thick red fringes decorating the horses‘ leather collars add a bright note of colour.
The farm workers are hard at work but seem contended and are surrounded by beautiful scenery. All of these aspects illustrate Constable’s idyllic view of his home county of Suffolk.
It may be that Constable did not paint images of these problems because he did not want to draw attention away from the natural landscape itself. In The Hay Wain the workers happily fit in with nature and live in harmony with the area.
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