Constable classic 'The Hay Wain' celebrates 200th anniversary in new Bristol Museum exhibition

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The 1821 painting is being loaned by the National Gallery in London

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will be hosting painter John Constable’s famous painting The Hay Wain in a new exhibition that will open to the public today (May 10).

The 1821 painting- which features an English landscape and has been widely reproduced, copied, satirised and politicised - is being loaned by the National Gallery in London to celebrate its 200th anniversary as part of its National Treasures programme. 

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The Hay Wain will be displayed alongside a wide-ranging collection of 17th century Dutch paintings to 21st century installation art and 11 oil sketches by Constable to create the National Treasures: Constable in Bristol, ‘Truth to Nature’ exhibition.

The display will explore the meaning of landscape, how artists historically have considered humanity’s relationship to nature, and how landscape art today is responding to the climate crisis, class, LGBT identity, colonialism and migration.

Borderlands, a free exhibition examining the challenges of divided lands, and Listening in the Dark, a moving image installation exploring sound and the nocturnal life of bats by Maeve Brennan, will also be on display.

John Constable, The Hay Wain. Credit: The National Gallery, LondonJohn Constable, The Hay Wain. Credit: The National Gallery, London
John Constable, The Hay Wain. Credit: The National Gallery, London

Julia Carver, Curator at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, said: “It has been an honour to work on the Truth to Nature exhibition, using The Hay Wain as a starting point to bring together pieces that deal with our human response to nature and the land.

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“We are all really excited to be part of the National Gallery’s 200th anniversary celebrations and are looking forward to showcasing this famous painting alongside carefully chosen pieces that will make you look at landscapes - and hopefully The Hay Wain - in a whole new light.”

Alexandra Kavanagh, Head of National Touring Exhibitions at the National Gallery, said, “We are delighted to be partnering with Bristol Museum and Art Gallery – it’s been so wonderful hearing about how they will bring such a well-loved painting to life through new lenses.

“We are so excited to see this display bring a fresh perspective to The Hay Wain, and particularly see its themes echoed alongside contemporary installations. It’s exactly these dialogues that we hoped to spark with our National Treasures project.”

Tickets for National Treasures: Constable in Bristol, ‘Truth to Nature’ are available at brism.us/Constable.  The exhibition will be on display until September 1.

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