Jeopardy! category: 19TH CENTURY ART & ARTISTS (02-04-2014)
$2000 clue: Between 1819 & 1825 this British landscape artist painted a series of six scenes on the River Stour
The gist: In 1776, he was born in East Bergholt, a small village on the same river where he’d paint his most famous work 45 years later.John Constable was born to a wealthy merchant family, and with his older brother mentally disabled, was expected to take over his father’s business. He began sketching the country surrounding his home at a young age, however, and his talent and passion convinced his father to let him attend art school. Like the Hudson River School of a couple clues back, Constable concentrated on painting rural areas, incorporating farms, pastures, and other human activity into his landscapes. Later in his career he would also find inspiration at Stonehenge and its surrounding Salisbury, with its mysterious origin and looming, Druidic presence – the mystical auras he often gave his paintings are much of the reason he’s today considered a Romantic. His many paintings were well-received by critics, but never sold very well, and his money problems plagued his life and his marriage. Although he sold well in France, his love of the English country prevented him from leaving to promote himself – he’s quoted as having said he “would rather be a poor man [in England] than a rich man abroad.” Nonetheless, he remained an artist for his entire life, and in 1829, at the age of 52, he was named to the Royal Academy of Art.
Today, he’s well-remembered in the world of British art – his famous work “The Hay Wain,” of a team of horses pulling a wagon across the River Stour to a cottage and one of the clue’s “series of six scenes”, was voted the second most popular painting in Britain a 2005 BBC poll.
The clue: The writers are giving no help for this $2000 clue – not even the name of “The Hay Wain,” the painting they obviously expect the contestants to know. Even if one’s familiar with the painting and just doesn’t know which river it’s on, I still don’t think it’s that easy to put the two things together – surely there were other English painters around the time painting near rivers.
In Jeopardy!: Constable appears in 18 clues in the J!Archive. “The Hay Wain,” Stonehenge, and landscapes are the most common themes, but he also shows up just as a 19th century English painter. Keep him in mind also for clues that mention the sky or clouds in art, as he was known to put a lot of effort into those aspects of his works.