Green & Cream Transferware Rim Bowl Scenes After Constable Boat Lock Pastoral Scene


Brand Grindley

For consideration is this hard to find rimmed soup or salad bowl by Grindley of England.  The scene is of one of John Constables paintings, “A Boat Passing Through a Lock”.

Constable’s powerful and original conception of what he termed ‘natural painture’, or the ‘pure and unaffected representation’ of nature (outlined in a letter of 29 May 1802 to his friend John Dunthorne), first came to the attention of the artist’s contemporaries in six great canvases depicting the Stour Valley in the Suffolk countryside, which were exhibited at London’s Royal Academy between 1819 and 1825. Working on a scale usually reserved for history painting, Constable endowed his images of everyday agricultural Britain with a new dignity and authority. He also redefined the notion of a ‘finished’ picture by imbuing these large works with something of the spontaneous freedom of a rapidly executed sketch. One of his subjects at this time, the lock at Flatford, was taken up by the artist in a number of paintings executed between c.1823 and 1826. Study of a boat passing a lock is one of these.

This painting shows the sluice gates of Flatford lock being opened to allow a sailing boat to make its way along the river Stour. The subject had enormous personal significance for Constable, who had been born in nearby East Bergholt and whose father owned and operated the mill beside the lock.

Measures 8”

Condition: No chips, cracks and only some crazing commensurate with age. Glaze has darkened to a creamy color giving a nice patina. One plate has a small nick off the back, not visible from the front

John Constable's father was a wealthy Suffolk miller. Constable's truthfulness to nature and devotion to his native scene have passed into legend. Less widely known, however, is his biographer's report that it was seeing Claude's Hagar and the Angel (now in the National Galleery, London) and watercolours by Girtin which first provided him with 'pictures that he could rely on as guides to the study of nature'. Ruisdael, Rubens, Wilson and Annibale Carracci were among other 'reliable guides' whose work he copied as a young man. He also learned from contemporary painters, never forgetting the advice given him by Benjamin West, the President of the Royal Academy: 'Always remember, sir, that light and shadow never stand your skies... always aim at brightness...even in the darkest effects...your darks should look like the darks of silver, not of lead or of slate.'

Constable's youthful exclamation, 'There is room enough for a natural painture [i.e. style of painting]', must be understood not as the outpouring of a 'natural painter' but as the proclamation of an aspiring student struggling for proficiency in the language of art, which shaped his deepest feelings before he could give expression to them.

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