An oak tree in a hayfield

An oak tree in a hayfield

'Portraits' of individual trees were a recurring subject in Constable's oeuvre. Often tranquil, sometimes dramatic, they often carried implications of stability and timelessness and reflected Constable's love of nature, which was both sensual and spiritual. In this sketch, Constable juxtaposed the broad crown of an old oak with a hayfield bathed in the late afternoon sun. This idyllic scene reflects the idea, widespread at the time, that a nation's countryside represented its social and political state; scenes of cultivation and husbandry indicated a state of order and harmony.