As the industrial revolution transformed the British countryside, replacing fields with factories, painters turned to landscape. Constable painted his native Suffolk, where he spent his childhood, and imbued it with a sense of affection for rural life. Turner, on the other hand, created dramatic and sublime landscapes with a sense of the heroic or even the tragic. What both of these artists have in common is a desire to make landscape painting—understood as a low subject by the Academy which dictated official views on art—carry serious meaning.
The Hay Wain is a painting by John Constable, finished in 1821, which depicts a rural scene on the River Stour between the English counties of Suffolk and Essex. It hangs in the National Gallery in London.
Painted in oils on canvas, the work depicts as its central feature three horses pulling a hay wain or large farm cart across the river. Willy Lott's Cottage, also the subject of an eponymous painting by Constable, is visible on the far left. The scene takes place near Flatford Mill in Suffolk, though since the Stour forms the border of two counties, the left bank is in Suffolk and the landscape on the right bank is in Essex.