History And Context
The landscape of Suffolk in England furnished the subjects for many of John Constable’s pictures, holding, as it did, great personal meaning for him. On the River Stour depicts the river at a point near Dedham, a locale known to him from his childhood.
Painted during the final years of Constable’s life, this oil, along with several others and a watercolor, derives from The White Horse, executed in 1819. Constable said of The White Horse, “There are generally in the life of an artist perhaps one, two or three pictures, on which hang more than usual interest – this is mine.”
Duncan Phillips , who called Constable “the founder of modern landscape,” paid tribute to the painter’s direct engagement with nature: “Never until his time had so much pure nature been set forth in art. He showed that the sun shines, that the wind blows, that water wets, that clouds are living, that grass is not brown mud, that air and light are everywhere.”