|Compare the top painting - The Stour Valley and Dedham Church (ca. 1814) by John Constable - with the bottom landscape - a recent photo of the field identified in Constable's painting. [Photo Credit: The Independent]|
ENGLAND — Nearly two hundred years after it was painted, the mystery of the exact location where John Constable (1776-1837) created his beloved work The Stour Valley and Dedham Church has been solved. Although the landscape has changed drastically since the early 1800s, a researcher for the National Trust, a conservation organization in the UK, was able to use historic maps and reference points to pinpoint the location shown in the painting.
Constable, who was born in Suffolk county England, once said "I should paint my own places best," and that he did. The artist became known primarily for his landscape paintings of the area surrounding his home, Dedham Vale, so much so that the area was eventually nicknamed "Constable Country". Fans of the Romantic painter have identified the exact locations pictured in a majority of Constable's rural paintings, but a handful - including The Stour Valley and Dedham Church, until recently - remain elusive to this day.
The Stour Valley and Dedham Church was painted around 1814. Dramatic changes to the landscape over the many years subsequent made finding the spot where Constable stood to paint his masterpiece that much harder. But Martin Atkinson, property manager of the National Trust and Constable enthusiast, has finally solved the mystery. He believes the painting shows Langham church, Dedham church, Fen Bridge and the bend in the River Stour, all of which sit within the picturesque Dedham Vale Area of Natural Beauty.
"It's great to see where an old master once stood - and be inspired by the same views as them," Atkinson told The Press Association. "When I discovered that I had worked out the location where Constable painted this particular masterpiece, I couldn't believe it. All the pieces of the jigsaw finally fitted together."______