John Constable was born June 11, 1776 in East Bergholt, England. His father was a prosperous corn merchant. After John Constable's education he started working in his father's business. In 1799 his father decided to let him join the Royal Academy in London to study art, as he noticed working as a merchant was not really what John wanted. As a student, John Constable mainly copied old master landscapes.
John Constable exhibited for the first time in 1802. In those days there was little respect for landscape painters, thus leading him to be a rather unsuccesful artist. During his lifetime, Constable only sold 20 paintings. However, due to his fathers wealth, he did become financially secure after the death of his father in 1816.
In the same year, Constable married Maria Bicknell. The couple led a very happy life together and John Constable suffered from a severe depression when his wife died in 1828.
Constable tried to capture the effects of changing light and the patterns of clouds moving across the country sky. He loved the countryside, and his best work was of outdoor scenes in his native Suffolk and his London home in Hampstead.
He worked in the open air, though he returned to his studio to finish his paintings. His larger scenes were sketched full-size in oil, and the sketch was then used as a model for the finished painting.
In France Constable found the success that eluded him in England. His 1821 master work The Haywain was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1824. Constable's work influenced the French artist Delacroix. Later still, the French Impressionists built on Constable's efforts to capture the moods of light.
It was not until 1829 that Constable was reluctantly awarded full membership in the Royal Academy. He continued to struggle for commercial success, and was forced to take on some portrait work to make ends meet.
John Constable died on March 31, 1837, and was buried in St. John's Church in London.