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Oil painting - Boat-Building near Flatford Mill
  • Boat-Building near Flatford Mill
    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837
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Boat-Building near Flatford Mill

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (painted)

  • Date:

    1815 (exhibited)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Paintings, Room 87, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries, case WEST WALL

This oil painting portrays the construction of a barge at a dry-dock owned by Constable's father. It is based on a tiny pencil drawing in a sketchbook at the V&A. Constable painted the landscape entirely in the open air. His biographer C. R. Leslie praised its 'atmospheric truth', such that 'the tremulous vibration of the heated air near the ground seems visible'.

Physical description

The scene is a pleasant summer's day on the banks of the river Stour. A barge is being constructed in Constable's father's boat-yard by the mill to carry his flour down to Mistley in Essex on its way to London. The unfinished boat is shown with a degree of detail unusual for Constable, but it is not painted with any more care than the surrounding trees. The general effect is of a placid, tranquil and uneventful day.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (painted)


1815 (exhibited)


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

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas


Height: 50.8 cm estimate, Width: 61.6 cm estimate, Height: 73.5 cm Frame, Width: 84.2 cm Frame

Object history note

Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857

Historical context note

In 1815 Constable exhibited five paintings and three drawings at the Royal Academy, including 'Boat-building' (No. 137). His mother died early this year and he was in Suffolk in May. He left London again for Suffolk on 6 July and remained there most of the year, being detained during December by his father's serious illness.

[G Reynolds, 1973, p. 106]

Descriptive line

Oil painting entitled 'Boat-Building near Flatford Mill' by John Constable. Great Britain, 1815.

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. 106, 107
100 Great Paintings in The Victoria & Albert Museum,London: V&A, 1985, p.106
Evans, M., with N. Costaras and C. Richardson, John Constable. Oil Sketches from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A, 2011, p. 20, fig. 14.
Feaver, William, Lucian Freud on John Constable, London, British Council, 2003

Production Note

Exhibited, Royal Academy


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Shipbuilders; Boats; Dockyards; Figures; Landscape


Paintings; Maritime


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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