East Anglia is known for its picturesque landscapes. Predominantly flat, the land seems to stretch out for miles. This creates beautiful countryside scenes, something which has not escaped some of our most revered artists. Constable Country is now a term of endearment for the area on the border of Suffolk and Essex where John Constable painted some of his most famous works. Other well-known artists such as Sir Alfred Munnings and Thomas Gainsborough have also recreated famous East Anglian panoramas on canvas. Here are some of the best representations of our region…
John Constable: The Hay Wain and Flatford, Suffolk
Most famous for his oil painting The Hay Wain, Constable is one of Suffolk’s favourite sons. Born in East Bergholt, a young Constable would often sketch the Suffolk countryside, falling in love with the area in the process.
Constable’s father, Golding, was a corn merchant and owned Flatford Mill amongst other interests. The Hay Wain itself showcases a horse and hay cart crossing the river with a cottage in the background. This scene was painted in the grounds of Flatford Mill, with the cottage belonging to a neighbour, William Lott. Although the trees are gone, William Lott’s cottage still remains.
Now owned by the National Trust, you can visit Flatford to learn more about John Constable and see some of his iconic painting locations.
Other notable Constable works of Suffolk include: Flatford Mill, Summer Evening near East Bergholt and The Lock.
Sir Alfred Munnings: A Suffolk Horse Fair, Lavenham
Another son of a mill owner, Sir Alfred Munnings is best known for his paintings of horses. Born in Mendham, he went on to serve as a war artist during World War One, famously painting General Jack Seely aboard his horse Warrior.
Despite only having the use of one eye – the result of an 1898 accident – Munnings painted many images of country life, including scenes from East Anglia where he lived before moving to Cornwall in 1908. The 1901 painting, A Suffolk Horse Fair, Lavenham was painted in oil and was presented to the Royal Academy, which Munnings would go on to be president of between 1944 and 1949. Local fairs provided an endless source of inspiration to Munnings, before he went on to paint racehorses from 1919.
To discover more of Munnings’s work, complete the Painters’ Trail, a 69-mile long cycling route through the Dedham Vale. While completing the route, take time to visit The Munnings Art Museum in Dedham. Situated in Munnings’s former home, the museum owns the largest collection of art works by the prolific East Anglian painter and is set within lovely gardens which houses a popular Garden Café.
Lucien Freud: Cedric Morris
Born in Germany, Freud’s Jewish family moved to England in 1933, fleeing from Hitler’s Nazi regime. From 1939 he studied at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, first in Dedham, then at Benton End in Hadleigh. It may even have been he who forced the school to move from Essex to Suffolk, with a stray cigarette butt, believed to be Freud’s, causing a devastating fire that destroyed the original building.
Interestingly, the more traditionalist painter Alfred Munnings was said to be delighted that the dangerously radical movement had been destroyed, driving around the smoking ruins gloating at its destruction.
One of the foremost 20th Century portraitists, one of Freud’s earliest works was a painting of his tutor at Benton End, Cedric Morris. The painting is now housed at the National Museum Wales, Freud’s teacher’s home country.
Thomas Gainsborough: Sudbury and other Suffolk landscapes
Thomas Gainsborough was born in Sudbury in 1727 and went on to become a founding member of the Royal Academy. He drew portraits, but his main love was landscapes, and he is credited with being one of the originators of British landscape painting.
Gainsborough moved to London in 1774, and it was here that his realistic style of painting grew in popularity. Some of his most famous works featuring East Anglia include View in Suffolk and Suffolk Landscape.
To find out more about the artist, you can visit Gainsborough’s house in Sudbury, which has been converted into a museum and acts as a centre for all things Gainsborough.
Thomas Churchyard: Haugh Lane and other Woodbridge scenes
Churchyard was born in Melton in 1798, and, in addition to being a lawyer, painted many images of nearby Woodbridge. As well as Haugh Lane, Woodbridge, Churchyard also painted View on the Deben and A House by a River, the latter of which is believed to be Rackham’s Mill in Wickham Market.
In June this year, 15 of Churchyard’s watercolours and paintings were sold for £21,280, with at least a quarter heading back to their home county of Suffolk.
Looking to move to Constable Country?
David Burr have seven prominently located offices throughout Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex. Our London office team are experts in relocation, and can help you to move to the country. If you’re interested in moving to our beautiful region please get in contact with your local office.