Born in Suffolk, UK, Constable was the son of a wealthy mill owner and grew to become one of the greatest British masters of landscape painting (the other being J.M.W. Turner). Constable showed a keen interest in painting from an early age and was responsive to the nature of his surroundings, stating "I associate my careless boyhood with all that lies on the banks of the Stour. Those scenes made me a painter and I am grateful."
In 1799 Constable left for London and began training at the Royal Academy Schools. He exhibited his first landscape at the Academy in 1802. Painting always in the open air, Constable spent the whole of his career working first hand from nature determined to capture it accurately and directly.
Marrying Maria Bicknell in 1816, Constable was later elected as an Associate to the Royal Academy in 1819; it was around this time that the painting 'The White Horse' was revealed and the full extent of the artist's talents were publically realised. This painting was the first of six works produced by Constable to raise the standard of his landscape work within the Academy.
Constable was left bereft in 1828 following the death of Maria and remained and his subsequent work reflects a state of melancholy that was to remain with him until his death. He continued to work nevertheless with increasing expressiveness, and in 1829 began work on a project entitled 'English Landscape Scenery' to be executed in mezzotint and intended as an explanation of the artist's ideology and portfolio.
Like Turner, Constable's style was so unique that it actually attracted few English artist followers, despite his images being much copied and forged. His effect in France however was rather more significant despite Constable never having been there. Described by Delacroix as 'one of the glories of England', his work was also admired by the Barbizon landscape painters.