The central years of the 1810s were pivotal in the life of John Constable.

The deaths of his mother and father in 1815 and 1816 [rocked his family], but the inheritance enabled him to finally marry his long-term partner Maria Bicknell in 1816. Artistically, those years marked the beginning of Constable's experiment with larger scale paintings, which would eventually become his seminal 'six-footers'. A Lime Kiln is one of many small 'plein air' oil sketches produced by Constable during that period, and which he would use for later reference when working on his larger compositions. Contrary to Constable's reputation as a painter of rural landscapes, the sketch shows an industrial site on the banks of the River Stour. Lime formed the basis of mortars and was spread on fields to enrich soil, making lime kilns an essential feature of Britain's construction and farming industries. Constable romanticises the scene, accentuating the arches of the kiln to recall a Classical ruin and emphasising the black poplar tree in the foreground.

This work was acquired with assistance from the Wolfson Foundation.


Purchased by Mme Yvette Guilbert from Leggatt's, 1894; Dr W. Schiller; by whom given to Mrs Violet Maconochie, 1949; by descent until 2005; William W. Winspear

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