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John Constable, The Lock,
Then and Now

Flatford, Suffolk

Location Guide

This painting is also known as 'A Boat Passing a Lock', it was Constable's 5th large painting, first exhibited in 1824, and the first one he would do upright rather than view. It measures 56 inches high by 47.5 inches wide. The lock gates are the same ones featured in Flatford Lock from the Mill House painted in 1814. In 1826 he would use the same subjects again in another painting entitled 'A Boat Passing a Lock', which was a view measuring 40 by 50 inches. The first version above sold on the first day of the Royal Academy Exhibition and constable decided, as there were other interested buyers, to produce, after a short gap, another version.

This is the oil sketch for the second version

The final painting of the second version, although not a particularly good photo of it.

You cannot see this view today, there are too many trees. The position constable was representing this image from is on a barge or boat in the area next to the lock in front of the mill. He may have been on a barge or he may have been just at the back of the mill in line with this.

Today you would just see the lock and trees, lots of them.

In constable picture in the centre distance is Dedham Church, in practice it is very small from here. We can in practice still see it from just the other side of the bridge, but if I put a photo here it would be so small you wouldn't notice it.

Going further along the river, a few fields, we get closer to Dedham, and with less hedges and trees its easier to see the church, but today there is generally more hedges and trees than in Constable's time. In part this is because in his day wood was used in building, manufacture and for heating, so hedgerow trees were one of the farming crops, now they are mostly just left until they become dangerous and have to be dealt with.

Location: John Constable, The Lock, Flatford, Suffolk

Grid Reference: TM076332 Ceremonial County: Suffolk

Map Link: Multimap

Aerial photo: Multimap

Getting there: Flatford Mill   also Flatford Lock from the Mill House

Access: Depends where you want to get to, boats are for hire by the bridge, or you could go on a course at the study enter that now occupies the mill. The path I was on is public access.
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Charges: None

Nearby Locations:
Other Location Pages: Then and Now Locations     John Constable Painting Locations     John Constables Painting Locations Then and Now   Flatford Mill
Other Relevant Pages: Then and Now Photography








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By: Keith Park  Section: Photography Section Key:
Page Ref: Constable_The_lock Topic: Comparative Photography  Last Updated: 08/2010


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