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Oil painting - Study of Tree Trunks
  • Study of Tree Trunks
    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837
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Study of Tree Trunks

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1821 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Isabel Constable

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Paintings, Room 88, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries, case WEST WALL

This outdoor sketch brilliantly captures the effect of broken sunlight falling through foliage. In May 1819 Constable expressed his delight in such subjects: 'Every tree seems full of blossom of some kind & the surface of the ground seems quite lovely'. The figure at the right may be the artist's wife, with one of their children.

Physical description

View from above of a large tree trunk and a woman with a bonnet, possibly holding a child.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (painted)


ca. 1821 (painted)


John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

oil on paper


Height: 24.8 cm estimate, Width: 29.2 cm estimate, Height: 45.2 cm Frame, Width: 55.3 cm Frame

Object history note

Given by Isabel Constable, 1888

Historical context note

The chief of Constable's four exhibits in 1821 was 'Landscape: Noon' ('The Hay Wain') (National Gallery No. 1207; for the full-scale sketch see No. 209 [987-1900] in this Catalogue). His third child, Charles Golding Constable, was born on 29 March. He accompanied Archdeacon John Fisher on his visitation of Berkshire in June, took No. 2 Lower Terrace, Hampstead, for his family during the summer and autumn and paid a visit to Fisher at Salisbury in November.

[G Reynolds, 1973, p. 135]

Descriptive line

Study of Tree Trunks by John Constable (British, 1776-1837); oil on canvas; Britain; 19th century.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Catalogue of the Constable Collection, Graham Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1973, pp. 135, 145-147
100 Great Paintings in The Victoria & Albert Museum.London: V&A, 1985, p.108
Martin Gayford and Anne Lyles Constable Portraits. The painter and his circle London, National Portrait Gallery, 2009. ISBN: 13:978 1 85514 398 2.

Labels and date

Label [Author unknown]
This study is no more than a fragment of a scene, a study of the way in which sunlight filters through the leaves of a tree and illuminates its trunk. The leaves are painted with a yellow that reflects the brilliance of the sun and the tree trunk is painted with smooth strokes that blend into one another and suggest the sheen on the bark of the tree. The composition is deliberately oblique and the spectator's eye is led out to the right of the composition where a girl is portrayed in the sun at the bottom of the bank. []


Oil paint; Paper


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Landscape; Trees


Images Online; Paintings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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