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CONSTABLE, SIR M.—CONSTABLE

secure by a legacy of £20,000 from Mr Bicknell, but the death of his wife towards the end of the year was a shock from which he never wholly recovered. His election to membership of the Academy in the following year did not lessen his distress: he felt that the honour had been delayed too long. His chief exhibit in 1829 was “Hadleigh Castle,” and this was succeeded by the great “Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows” (1831), “The Opening of Waterloo Bridge” (1832), which had been begun in 1817, “Englefield House” (1833), “The Valley Farm” (1835), “The Cenotaph” (1836), and “Arundel Mill and Castle” (1837). Constable had long suffered from rheumatism and nervous depression, but his sudden death on the 31st of March 1837 could be traced to no definite disease. He was buried in Hampstead churchyard, where his tomb may still be seen.

In May 1838 his remaining works were sold at auction, but fetched very small prices. Many were bought in by his children, and through their generosity have passed to the English nation, as the national collections at Trafalgar Square, Millbank and South Kensington testify. Nowhere else can Constable’s art be studied completely or safely, since forgeries and imitations are common and have crept into the Louvre and other famous galleries. Much of the power of his work survives in the noble series of mezzotints made after his sketches by David Lucas, and first issued in 1833. Though a commercial failure at the time of publication, this English Landscape series is now deservedly prized, as are the other plates which Lucas engraved after Constable. Constable himself made a few desultory experiments in etching, but they are of no importance.

As already indicated, the mature art of Constable did not develop till after the year 1811, when he began to combine the fresh colour of nature, which he had learned to depict by working in the open air, with the art of making a picture, which he had learned from painting portraits and copying those of other masters. His development was unusually slow, and his finest work, with but few exceptions, was done between his fortieth and fiftieth years (1816–1826). During the last twelve years of his life his manner became more free, and the palette knife was constantly used to apply spots and splashes of pure colour, so that his technique often suggests that afterwards employed by the Impressionists. Yet his direct influence upon French landscape has sometimes been overrated. When Constable first exhibited at the Salon in 1825 Theodore Rousseau, the pioneer of French naturalism, was only twelve years old, and the movement of 1830 was really originated in France by Gros and Géricault, while in England the water-colour painters led the way. Constable’s death in 1837 removed the man and most of his work from the public eye for another generation, and he became a famous shadow rather than a living force. So Monet and the Impressionists, when they sought after the secret of painting air and sunshine, looked to Turner rather than to Constable, and in England the eloquence of Ruskin pointed in the same direction.

Since the British nation came into the possession of a large portion of Constable’s pictures and sketches, his work has been better understood. Though limited in range of subject to the scenery of Suffolk, Hampstead, Salisbury and Brighton, his sketches express the tone, colour, movement and atmosphere of the scenes represented with unrivalled force and truthfulness, and modern criticism tends to rate their spontaneity above the deliberate accomplishment of his large finished works. His treatment of skies is specially notable. Here his early experience as a miller told in his favour. No one has painted English cloud effects so truthfully, or used them as a compositional quantity with so much skill. Though in looking at nature he was determined to see with his own eyes and not with those of any former master, he found that the science of his predecessors was necessary to him before his sketches could be translated into large pictures. In these pictures his vivid tones and fresh colour are grafted upon the formulae of Claude and Rubens, and it is a common error to regard Constable as an opponent of the great old masters. His pictures, like his writings and lectures, prove just the reverse. His dislike was reserved for the painters who took their ideas from other painters instead of getting them directly from nature.

Authorities.—Among older books see C. R. Leslie, Memoirs of the Life of John Constable, R. A. (London, 2nd ed. 1845, 3rd ed. 1896) (the classical work on the subject); and English Landscape Scenery, a Series of Forty Mezzotint Engravings on Steel, by David Lucas, from pictures painted by John Constable, R.A. (London, folio, 1855). The large work on Constable and his Influence on Landscape Painting, by C. J. Holmes (1902), contains the only chronological catalogue of Constable’s paintings and sketches. Leslie’s biography has been admirably rendered into French by M. Léon Bazalgette (Paris, H. Floury, 1905).  (C. J. H.) 


CONSTABLE, SIR MARMADUKE (c. 1455–1518), English soldier, was descended from a certain Robert (d. 1216), lord of Flamborough, who was related to the Lacys, hereditary constables of Chester, hence the surname of the family. A son of Sir Robert Constable (d. 1488), Marmaduke was in France with Edward IV. in 1475 and with Henry VII. in 1492. He was sheriff of Staffordshire and Yorkshire, was in high favour with Henry VII. and Henry VIII., and led his kinsmen and retainers to the battle of Flodden in 1513. He was twice married, and left several sons when he died on the 20th of November 1518. In Flamborough church one may still read a rhyming epitaph describing Constable’s life and prowess.

Sir Marmaduke’s eldest son, Sir Robert Constable (c. 1478–1537), helped Henry VII. to defeat the Cornish rebels at Blackheath in 1497. In 1536, when the rising known as the Pilgrimage of Grace broke out in the north of England, Constable was one of the insurgent leaders, but towards the close of the year he submitted at Doncaster and was pardoned. He did not share in the renewal of the rising which took place in January 1537; but he refused the king’s invitation to proceed to London, and was arrested. Tried for treason, he was hanged at Hull in the following June.

Sir Marmaduke’s second son, Sir Marmaduke Constable (c. 1480–1545), was knighted after the battle of Flodden, and was at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. He was a knight of the shire for Yorkshire and then for Warwickshire, and was a member of the Council of the North from 1537 until his death. Another noteworthy member of this family was the regicide, Sir William Constable (d. 1655), who was created a baronet in 1611. A member of the Long Parliament, he fought with distinction among the parliamentarians at Edgehill; in 1644 his military enterprises in north Yorkshire were very successful, and later he guarded the king at Carisbrooke, and was governor of Gloucester. He was one of the king’s judges, was a member of the council of state under Cromwell, and died in London on the 15th of June 1655.


CONSTABLE (O. Fr. connestable, Fr. connétable, Med. Lat. comestabilis, conestabilis, constabularius, from the Lat. comes stabuli, count of the stable), a title now confined to the lord high constable of England, the lord constable of Scotland, the constables of some royal castles in England, and to certain executive legal officials of inferior rank in Great Britain and the United States.

The history of the constable is closely analogous to that of the marshal (q.v.); for just as the modern marshals, whatever their rank or office, are traceable both as to their title and functions to the marescalcus, or master of the horse, of the Frankish kings, so the constable, whether he be a high dignitary of the royal court or a “petty constable” in a village, is derived by a logical evolution from the counts of the stable of the East Roman Emperors.

The Byzantine comes stabuli (κόμης τοῦ σταβλοῦ) was in his origin simply the imperial master of the horse, the head of the imperial stables, and a great officer of state. From the East the title was borrowed by the Frankish kings, and during the Carolingian epoch a comes stabuli was at the head of the royal stud, the marshals (marescalci) being under his orders. The office survived and expanded in France under the Capetian dynasty; in the 11th century the constable has not only the general superintendence of the royal stud, but an important command in the army—though still under the orders of the seneschal,—and certain limited powers of jurisdiction. From