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Recent Acquisitions - 7 of 12

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The Wheatfield by John Constable

John Constable
English, 1776–1837
The Wheatfield
Oil on canvas
21 1/8 x 30 3/8 in. (53.7 x 77.2 cm)
Gift of the Manton Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007

In August of 1815, Constable wrote to his fiancée, Maria Bicknell, “I live almost wholly in the fields and see nobody but the harvest men.” The result of that engagement with nature was The Wheatfield, painted largely in the open air in late summer of 1815 and exhibited at the Royal Academy in London the following year. The painting is a testament to Constable’s commitment to representing his native countryside—the view is across Dedham Vale and the Stour Valley toward Dedham Village in Suffolk—as directly and naturalistically as possible. Yet the image is delicately composed, and the numerous figures (a ploughman, reapers, gleaners, a boy and dog sitting by the noontime provisions) suggest a timeless pastoral idyll rather than a specific contemporaneous moment. The Wheatfield is one of 232 oil paintings, watercolors, chalk drawings, and prints given to the Clark by the Manton Foundation in 2007. Assembled by Sir Edwin A. G. Manton (1909–2005), a business leader and arts patron, and his wife Florence, Lady Manton, the Manton Collection features works by Constable, J. M. W. Turner, Thomas Gainsborough, and other leading British artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With its in-depth focus on landscape pictures, the Manton Collection reflects Sir Edwin’s love of his native England, and represents the most significant gift to the Clark since its founding in 1955.