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Oil painting - Barges on the Stour, with Dedham Church in the Distance
  • Barges on the Stour, with Dedham Church in the Distance
    Constable, John RA, born 1776 - died 1837
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Barges on the Stour, with Dedham Church in the Distance

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain, uk (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1811 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Constable, John RA, born 1776 - died 1837 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on paper laid on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Isabel Constable

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Paintings, room 88, case WEST WALL

This oil sketch is one of the earliest to demonstrate Constable's vibrant and original mature style. The lock gates are probably near Flatford Mill. Constable was very familiar with the barges that carried grain on the River Stour.

Physical description

Landscape painting with barges, and Dedham Church in the background.

Place of Origin

Great Britain, uk (painted)


ca. 1811 (painted)


Constable, John RA, born 1776 - died 1837 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

oil on paper laid on canvas


Height: 260 mm estimate, Width: 311 mm estimate, Height: 50.4 cm Frame, Width: 54.8 cm Frame

Object history note

Given by Isabel Constable, 1888

Historical context note

'In the year 1811 Constable's exhibits at the Royal Academy comprised 'Twilight', and 'Dedham Vale: morning' (now in the collection of Sir Richard Proby). He visited Suffolk in the spring and paid his first visit to Salisbury in the autumn: this was probably the occasion of his first meeting with John Fisher, who was to become his closest friend. His attachment to Maria Bicknell became known during this year, and he received her father's permission to write to her in October.'

[G Reynolds, 1973, p. 69]

Descriptive line

Oil sketch of barges on the Stour by John Constable, England, c.1811

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

Morris, Edward, ed. Constable's Clouds: Paintings and Cloud Studies by John Constable , Edinburgh : National Galleries of Scotland ; Liverpool : National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, c2000. 176 p. : ill. (some col.). ISBN 1903278058 (paperback), 1903278066 (hardback).
Exhibition catalogue
Catalogue of the Constable Collection, Graham Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1973, pp. 69, 71, 72
The following is an extract from the text of the entry:

"Mr. Douglas Thomson states that the lock gates shown here are those near Flatford Mill: they appear on the righ in No. 103 [135-1888] (see the sketch-book, No. 132 [1259-1888], p. 63).
Holmes, p. 242, dates this sketch c.1810. It is sufficiently close in style and subject to No. 103 [135-1888] to warrant its being listed here in conjunction with that work.

Notes on Nos. 100-104 [326-1888, 128-1888, 583-1888, 135-1888, 325-1888]

Nos. 100 [326-1888] and 101 [128-1888] are the earliest dated oil sketches in the Museum's collections to show the full originality of Constable's mature style, its vivid naturalism of colouring and boldness of handling. The earliest dated sketch in which these characteristics are applied to Suffolk scenery is probably the 'Country road near East Berghold' inscribed October 13th, 1809 E[ast] B[erghold]. This was Lot 116 recto (on the verso is a sketch of a country house) in the Gregory sale at Messrs. Sotheby's, 20 July 1949. This sketch was reproduced in monochrome in the sale catalogue and in colour as the frontispiece to the Arts Council's catalogue An Exhibition of Sketches & Drawings by John Constable from the collection of Dr. H. A. C. Gregory, M.C., 1949. In 'Fresh Light on John Constable' (Apollo, Vol. LXXXVII, 1968, pp. 227-30) Charles Rhyne draws attention to oil sketches dated 27 September 1810 and 30 September 1810 in the John G. Johnson collection, Philadelphia, and a landscape with houses dated 8 October 1810 in the collection of Mrs. Woodman. The style may be seen in embryo in some of the oil sketches Constable made of Lake District scenery in 1806: for instance in 'Keswick Lake' formerly in the possession of Sir Michael Sadler (L. ed. S., Pl. 32). The reasons for grouping Nos. 102 [583-1888], 103 [135-1888], and 104 [325-1888] with these two dated oil sketches have not been explained; they do not amount to a conclusive dating. Sketching in oils from nature was in fact prominent in Constable's practice in 1811, for he called on nature, and on 17 December Farington called on Constable to see the painted studies of landscapes from nature which he had made during the autumn (Greig, Vol. VI, p. 279; VII, p. 70). Another set of studies conveniently, though more loosely, grouped here with the appearance of Constable's completely matured naturalism is to be found in Nos. 109-113 [134-1888, 166-1888, 161-1888, 130-1888, 145-1888]."

Exhibition History

Constable: a breath of fresh air (The Millennium Galleries, Sheffield 08/02/2003-27/04/2003)
John Constable, selected by Lucian Freud (Grand Palais 10/10/2002-13/01/2003)
Constable's Clouds: Paintings and Cloud Studies by John Constable (National Galleries of Scotland 11/08/2000-29/10/2000)
Constable's Clouds: Paintings and Cloud Studies by John Constable (Walker Art Gallery 28/04/2000-16/07/2000)


Paper; Canvas; Oil paint


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Barges; Stour



Collection code


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