About the work
Between 1830 and 1832, in an attempt to counter negative press, Constable published a set of mezzotint engravings of 'English Landscapes', which were accompanied by explanatory texts and engraved by David Lucas. The volume stated that the subjects were ‘taken from real places; they are mostly rural, and are meant particularly to characterise the scenery of England.’ When the publication failed to be a success, Constable wrote to a friend: 'every gleam of sunshine is blighted to me in the art at least. Can it therefore be wondered at that I paint continual storms?'
About the artist
David Lucas was born in Northamptonshire; the son of a farmer. In 1820 he began an engraving apprenticeship with S. W. Reynolds, moving into Reynolds’ home in Bayswater. By 1829 he was working with John Constable on a series of 22 plates, known as ‘English Landscape’ (published 1830-32), which was produced under Constable’s intense scrutiny. A further six plates were published by F. G. Moon in 1838, after the artist’s death. Lucas also engraved six larger prints after Constable and several prints after works by other artists, including R. Smirke, D. Roberts and T. Girtin. His last project was to rework ‘English Landscape’ for its republication in 1855. Alcoholism plagued his last decades and he died in the Fulham union workhouse, aged 79.
Born at East Bergholt in Suffolk, John Constable was the son of a miller. He claimed that the Suffolk countryside which surrounded him as a child ‘made him a painter’. In 1806, he visited the Lake District and in 1827 settled in Hampstead. Constable’s paintings ‘The Hay Wain’ and ‘View on the Stour’ were awarded the Gold Medal at the Paris Salon in 1824. The great success of these and other works exhibited in France had a significant effect on the development of the Barbizon School of landscape painters and works of the Romantic Movement. After Constable’s sudden death in 1837, a large collection of his work was bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum by his daughter.