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Oil painting - Landscape with a Double Rainbow
  • Landscape with a Double Rainbow
    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837
  • Enlarge image

Landscape with a Double Rainbow

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (painted)

  • Date:

    28/07/1812 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on paper laid on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Isabel Constable

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room WS, case 103, shelf R

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.

Physical description

Landscape with a rainbow in oil on paper laid on canvas.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (painted)


28/07/1812 (painted)


John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

oil on paper laid on canvas

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)

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.


Height: 33.7 cm estimate, Width: 38.4 cm estimate, Height: 51.3 cm frame, Width: 55.2 cm frame, Depth: 4 cm frame

Object history note

Given by Isabel Constable, 1888

Historical context note

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]

Descriptive line

'Landscape and Double Rainbow', Oil on paper laid on canvas, by John Constable, Suffolk, Britain, 28 July 1812.

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

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

Labels and date

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'. []


Oil paint; Paper; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Landscape; Rainbow


Access to Images; Images Online; Paintings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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