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Comment > Letters to the editor >

The Christian message of John Constable

Sir, - Although readers would have been delighted to see the Revd DNicholas Cranfield's review of the current exhibition of John Constable'paintings at Tate Britain< href="/80256fa1003e05c1/httppublicpages/cc99662a1d700ba580257193004db22f?opendocumentArts, 23 June), the piece seemed to give the impression that Constable wamore of a worshipper of "Truth and Nature" than of God.It would have been good to read about the profound Christian significance omany of Constable's best-known landscape paintings (including many of those ithe present show).The painter was an extremely devout Anglican, connected with some leadinfigures in the Church of his day. At one stage, he was even destined for thpriesthood. This information should be of great interest to your readers.John Constable's "six-footer" landscape canvases are significant for manreasons, not least because they demonstrate the artist's belief that thesnatural landscape subjects, which he understood to reflect divine qualitieswere worth the same kind of monumental treatment as had until then been largelreserved for paintings showing historical, mythological, and biblical themeMeanwhile, the church towers in Constable's landscape scenes led one criticAndrew Graham-Dixon, to reflect that "the scene of Constable's life was boundeby religion, enfolded and enclosed under the benevolent eye of God."During the 1820s, Constable began to show an interest in scientific methoand enquiry, which, in those days, was effectively a branch of theology. Hbegan to produce painstaking studies of cloud formations, flora, and faunaWith these, he was aiming (like his great contemporary Linnaeus) to understanand reveal something more of "God's great plan".Constable's pictures are very popular, and could form the basis for sominteresting mission and teaching opportunitie
STEPHEN LAI
Dean of Chaplains and Honorary Lectur
University of Ke
Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NP

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