Where Is Constable Country?
The neighborhood of Dedham, in Essex, and Flatford, in Suffolk, England, is often spoken of as “Constable Country” because it provided so many subjects for the brush of John Constable (1776-1837), the English landscape painter. John Constable said: “I associate my careless boyhood with all that lies on the banks of the Stour. Those scenes made me a painter”.
It has been said that Constable was the first artist to discover that trees were green. What this really means is that, in the days when Constable began to paint, it was fashionable to represent trees and fields in pictures in a dull brown color which was considered “harmonious” and, also to re-design the landscape to make it more majestic or romantic.
Constable had no use for such notions. He depicted the beauty of the English scene, with its changing seasons, as he saw it. So it was a long time before he was recognized as a great painter. When he tried to reproduce the effect of shimmering light on trees the critics talked contemptuously of “Constable’s snow”. They thought his use of green was vulgar and showy.
However, in 1824 three of his landscapes which he sent for exhibition at the Paris Salon were awarded a gold medal and had considerable influence. Characterised by open spaces and big ever changing skies the Essex countryside is perfect for a stroll or a leisurely picnic. The Dedham Vale and Stour Valley embraces one of the most cherished landscapes. Picturesque villages, rolling farmland, rivers, meadows, ancient woodlands and a wide variety of local wildlife combine to create what many describe as the traditional English lowland landscape. The area has a rich history and has been the inspiration to many writers and artists.
A crisp frosty morning offers a new perspective on the sun-drenched water meadows of the summer months that Constable so loved. Enjoy a peaceful evening stroll with the setting sun providing an impressive backdrop and visit midweek to experience the area at its very best.
The network of ancient lanes is an intricate part of the landscape and many of these hidden treasures offer some of the most spectacular and memorable views. The best way to enjoy and fully experience the exceptional beauty this area has to offer is, of course, by venturing off the beaten track on foot or by bicycle. There are many established circular and linear walks throughout the Dedham Vale, so there is every opportunity to get back to nature, slow down and enjoy the gentle, relaxing pace.
An area of outstanding natural beauty, no matter how long you stay or whatever the time of year, the Dedham Vale will always inspire and captivate. The area has much to offer. The changing seasons simply bring fresh and exciting discoveries.