The Wheat Field

“I live almost wholly in the fields and see nobody but the harvest men,” wrote Constable to his fiancée in August 1815. That summer, working primarily outdoors, he painted The Wheat Field, a view across a valley in his native Suffolk. Plowmen cut down the golden wheat, reapers bundle the stalks, and gleaners collect leftover grains, while a boy and his dog guard lunch. The figures seem to be a natural part of the landscape, captured at a specific moment in time. Yet the artist carefully organized each element of the composition to craft an idyllic harvest scene.

Provenance

Cheston family (possibly from the late nineteenth century); Morris Cheston, Jr., Philadelphia, by descent (until 1997);¹ [Agnew’s, London, sold through Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, to Curtis Galleries, 1997]; [Curtis Galleries, Minneapolis, 1997–2000, sold through Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, to Manton, 12 Dec. 2000]; Sir Edwin A. G. Manton, New York (2000–d. 2005); Manton Family Art Foundation (2005–7, given to the Clark); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2007.

1. Morris Cheston may not have held sole ownership; his son-in-law, Raul Betancourt, Jr., also seems to have represented the family interests at times.

John Constable

English, 1776–1837

The Wheat Field

1816

Oil on canvas

21 1/2 x 30 3/4 in. (54.6 x 78.1 cm)


Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007

2007.8.27


OFF VIEW

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Lees, Sarah, ed. Nineteenth-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; New Haven and London: distributed by Yale University Press, 2012.

Clarke, Jay, ed. Landscape, Innovation, and Nostalgia: The Manton Collection of British Art. Williamstown, MA: The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2012.