Osmington Bay

Osmington Bay, painted on Constable’s honeymoon, conveys nature’s grandeur on an intimate scale. Portland Island and Chesil Beach separate Osmington Bay’s choppy waters from the expansive, cloudy sky. A handful of people populate the beach: a young boy with a crook, likely a shepherd, stands at right; a mother and child walk near a seated figure at middle distance; and further along, a fisherman mends a net near his boat. These figures reveal the beach as a site of both work and leisure. Constable changed the placement of the foremost boy—overpaint conceals an earlier rendering to the left—revealing his desire to get the composition just right.


The artist, given to John (d. 1832) or Mary Fisher, Osmington; Osmond Fisher, their son, by descent (d. 1914); Osmond Philip Fisher, his son, by descent (1914–d. 1937); Mrs. Osmond Philip Fisher, his wife, by descent (1937–d. 1957); Hilda M. Burn, great-granddaughter of John and Mary Fisher, by descent; [Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, London, sold to private collection, 1973]; private collection; sale, Christie’s, London, 21 Nov. 1980, no. 73, sold to Spink; [Spink, Ltd., London, sold to Manton, 28 Feb. 1981]; Sir Edwin A. G. Manton, New York (1981–d. 2005); Manton Family Art Foundation (2005–7, given to the Clark); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2007.

John Constable

English, 1776–1837

Osmington Bay


Oil on canvas

9 3/16 x 12 1/16 in. (23.3 x 30.6 cm)

Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007




Lees, Sarah, ed. Nineteenth-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; New Haven and London: distributed by Yale University Press, 2012.

Clarke, Jay, ed. Landscape, Innovation, and Nostalgia: The Manton Collection of British Art. Williamstown, MA: The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2012.