February 2019 meeting

Sudbury History Society

A Talk by Richard Humphreys on 13th February 2019


“The Leaping Horse” by Constable

Richard Humphreys, art historian, curator and writer has recently published a book on Constable’s painting “The Leaping Horse”.  At today’s talk, he gave us a fascinating insight into Constable’s life and times and painting methods.

He told us about Constable’s life: he was a deeply religious, serious man and conservative in his views.  He used to pray for inspiration in front of his canvases.  He saw nature in a spiritual way.  Churches often feature in his pictures and he even painted some religious altarpieces.  At the time, pictures of landscapes were not so accepted as the art world was dominated by portrait painting and Constable struggled to find his niche.  He was encouraged to persevere and follow in the classical tradition of landscape painting (Claude Lorraine).  It took many years for him to be accepted as a full member of the Royal Academy. Constable made a big impact in France.  He was a big hit with French dealers and was given a Gold Medal at the Paris Salon.   Every year between 1819 and 1825, Constable submitted a large canvas, a so-called “six-footer”, to the Royal Academy for their annual exhibition.

Constable’s paintings were works of the imagination.  He often reworked his canvases to achieve the nostalgic effect he wanted.  Richard Humphreys’ talk was fascinating and has enabled us to look at Constable’s paintings in a new light.

The painting, and more information, can be seen at

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