Wednesday 28 June 2017

Constable picture's location solved

The exact spot where John Constable painted The Stour Valley And Dedham Village has been identified
The exact spot where John Constable painted The Stour Valley And Dedham Village has been identified
The exact spot where John Constable painted The Stour Valley And Dedham Village has been identified
The exact spot where John Constable painted The Stour Valley And Dedham Village has been identified
The exact spot where John Constable painted The Stour Valley And Dedham Village has been identified

The exact spot where landscape artist John Constable painted The Stour Valley And Dedham Village has been identified after a 200-year search.

Since it was painted in 1814/15, gradual changes to field boundaries meant that the exact location of the viewpoint that inspired Constable was difficult to identify - making it one of only a handful of Constable's landscapes still to be found.

But new research by the National Trust, which owns and looks after much of the countryside surrounding the village of Dedham on the Essex/Suffolk border, has helped pinpoint the exact location where Constable once stood to paint this particular scene.

Martin Atkinson, National Trust property manager for East Suffolk and a Constable enthusiast, used features from the painting and historic maps of the area from the Suffolk Records Office to identify the exact location.

He said: "It's great to see where an old master once stood - and be inspired by the same views as them. When I discovered that I had worked out the location where Constable painted this particular masterpiece, I couldn't believe it. All the pieces of the jigsaw finally fitted together."

At present, the view is not easily recognisable. Hedge boundaries have moved and trees have become established, blocking out some of the buildings behind.

But the view is still as inspiring as it was back then and visitors can peer through a gap in the hedge which frames the landscape.

Painted between 1814 and 1815, The Stour Valley And Dedham Village depicts Langham church, Dedham church, Fen Bridge and the bend in the River Stour, all of which sit within the picturesque Dedham Vale Area of Natural Beauty.

By studying these reference points and the East Bergholt Enclosure Map of 1817, Mr Atkinson found that the field boundaries in place in 1817, two years after the painting was completed, had changed drastically by 1830.

The Stour Valley And Dedham Village is now housed in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, US, as part of the Warren Collection.

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