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Oil painting - Dedham Lock and Mill
  • Dedham Lock and Mill
    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837
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Dedham Lock and Mill

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Dedham Mill (painted)

  • Date:

    1820 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case WN

This view depicts a mill that belonged to John Constable's father. You can see the sluice and lock gate on the River Stour, and the tower of Dedham church. It is based on an oil sketch, one of several versions of the composition.

Physical description

This is the third and last version of the subject, and represents Constable's final thoughts about the subtly orchestrated composition. It is one of the artist's most beautiful and justifiably famous pictures. Constable's father owned Dedham Mill, and he worked there as a boy, on and around the river Stour. The sun is just breaking through the rain clouds after a shower, the grass and foliage glistening brightly in the light. Such effects were Constable's forte, and the principal aim of his life and work. But together with his observation and recording of the 'real' atmosphere of landscape, there co-existed the fervent expression of his emotions about the countryside of his earliest years which resulted in his predominant place in the history of Romantic art. He himself wrote: 'Painting is for me another word for feeling, and I associate my "careless boyhood" with all that lies on the banks of the Stour; these scenes made me a painter, and I am grateful'.

Place of Origin

Dedham Mill (painted)


1820 (painted)


John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'John Constable. ARA. pinxt. 1820'
Signed and dated by the artist, lower right


Height: 53.7 cm estimate, Width: 76.2 cm estimate, Height: 88 cm frame, Width: 111.5 cm frame, Height: 89 cm Frame, Width: 111.5 Frame

Object history note

Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857

Historical context note

In 1820 Constable exhibited at the Royal Academy 'Stratford Mill' (now in the collection of Sir Reginald Macdonald-Buchanan) and 'A View of Harwich Lighthouse' (see No. 142 [302-1888] above).
He stayed with Fisher at Salisbury in July and August, settled his wife and children at Hampstead by 1 September, and paid a brief visit to Malvern Hall.

[G Reynolds, 1973, p. 127]

Descriptive line

Oil painting entitled 'Dedham Lock and Mill' by John Constable. Great Britain, 1820.

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

Parris, Leslie and Fleming-Williams, Ian. Constable London : The Tate Gallery, 1991
Catalogue of the Constable Collection, Graham Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1973, pp. 127, 128
Evans, M., with N. Costaras and C. Richardson, John Constable. Oil Sketches from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A, 2011, p. 21, fig. 15.


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Canal, Lock; Subject; Boats; Landscape




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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