Landscape with a Double Rainbow

Oil Painting
28/07/1812 (painted)
Landscape with a Double Rainbow thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On short term loan out for exhibition
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Rainbows fascinated Constable, who was highly knowledgeable about 'this most beautiful Phenomenon of Light'. They frequently appear in his later works. This was one of a group of three oil sketches sold at auction in 1838 for £5 5s.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
oil on paper laid on canvas
Brief Description
'Landscape and Double Rainbow', Oil on paper laid on canvas, by John Constable, Suffolk, Britain, 28 July 1812.
Physical Description
Landscape with a rainbow in oil on paper laid on canvas.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 33.7cm
  • Estimate width: 38.4cm
  • Frame height: 51.3cm
  • Frame width: 55.2cm
  • Frame depth: 4cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • '28 July 1812' (Inscribed by the artist in oil, upper left)
  • '28 July 1812' (Inscribed twice in ink on the back (once on the linen, once on the stretcher))
  • 'Isey or Min' (written in pencil on the stretcher (Constable's daughters, Isabel and Maria))
  • '48/3' (Chalked on the back; this is the lot number from the Executors' sale, 16 May 1838, the catalogue entry for which reads: 'Three - Moonlihgt; Landscape, and a ditto, with a Rainbow'. The three works were bought in for the family by C. R. Leslie for £5 5s.)
Gallery Label
Label [Author unknown] This is the artist's first known treatment of a double rainbow, a theme he seems to have used consciously as a symbol of hope, and he painted it during a return visit to his birthplace in Suffolk. It has been related to lines from Wordsworth's poem The Rainbow: My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky: So was it when my life began, So is it now I am a man, So be it when I shall grow old... The child is father of the man... To the Romantic eye, heart and mind, the rainbow seemed the ultimate image of everything in life that was beautiful but transitory, visible but intangible. Constable himself wrote in his volume of mezzotints English Landscape Scenery in 1833: 'Nature, in all the varied aspects of her beauty, exhibits no feature more lovely nor any that awaken a more soothing reflection than the rainbow'.
Credit line
Given by Isabel Constable
Object history
Given by Isabel Constable, 1888
Historical context
In 1812 Constable's exhibits at the Royal Academy were 'Salisbury: Morning', 'A Watermill' (Flatford Mill) (see No. 103 [135-1888]) and two small landscapes. Apart from a possible brief visit to Salisbury (see No. 118 [263-1888]) he spent most of the supper in Suffolk.



[G Reynolds, 1973, p. 77]
Subjects depicted
Summary
Rainbows fascinated Constable, who was highly knowledgeable about 'this most beautiful Phenomenon of Light'. They frequently appear in his later works. This was one of a group of three oil sketches sold at auction in 1838 for £5 5s.
Bibliographic References
  • Catalogue of the Constable Collection, Graham Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1973, cat. no. 117
  • Catalogue of the Constable Collection, Graham Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1973, pp. 77-80
  • Ian Collins, ed. Masterpieces. Art and East Anglia Norwich, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, 2013. ISBN: 9780946009626.
  • John E. Thornes, 'Constable's Salisbury Rainbow: a Fusion of Science and Culture?', The Burlington Magazine, No.160 (September 2018), pp.740-44
  • Feaver, William, Lucian Freud on John Constable, London, British Council, 2003
Collection
Accession Number
328-1888

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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