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House in the Trees at Hampstead, John Constable (1776-1837)
Oil on board, English School, 1821. John Constable was the son of wealthy miller in Bergholt, Suffolk. His family did not approve of his vocation as an artist but he joined the Royal Academy Schools as a student in 1799. From 1802 until around 1820 his paintings mostly featured the landscape of Suffolk, a number of which were made by sketching in oils, which had been popular among young English landscape artists since before 1800. Constable took this quick and direct method of painting and developed it into a tool of great range and refinement. The most famous example of work from this Suffolk-based phase is The Hay Wain (1821), which was in fact painted in the studio. Constable was elected to the Royal Academy in 1819 and from then onwards based himself in London and Hampstead. In 1829 he was made a full Academician and the last years of his life were spent consolidating his reputation as one of Britain's foremost landscape painters. House in the Trees at Hampstead is a study of trees made against the sky and it is one of several that the artist made shortly after he settled permanently in Hampstead with his family. It is unclear whether these sketches resulted in a finished work or whether he employed the tree and cloud studies in these sketches for a painting somewhere else