Homely harvest from Constable's `Cornfield'

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The Independent Online

An exhibition of more than 100 representations of Constable's The Cornfield on objects ranging from firescreens to cushions, thimbles and even teapot stands from homes around Britain opens next week.

It all started with an advertisement in a free newspaper. When Professor Colin Painter, principal of Wimbledon School of Art, was researching the popular images of art in households, he kept finding affection for The Cornfield, painted in 1826.

As a result, he placed an advertisement in the south-west London newspaper the Informer and one next to The Cornfield itself in the National Gallery asking to hear from people who had copies of the painting at home. In the Informer, he did not identify the painting, merely asking: "Do you have this picture in your home, or something with this picture on it, such as a clock, a tray, a plate or a thimble?"

More than 500 people wrote to him, leading to the exhibition opening next week at the National Gallery. Professor Painter said that affection for the painting covered "all social groups." He said: "The Cornfield is understood and viewed differently by everyone. For some, it might be a great piece of art to hang on their wall, but for others it is part of a functional object, like a cushion."

He added that it was more prevalent than Constable's more celebrated work The Hay Wain (also in the National Gallery) because it was vertical and not horizontal. "There are more tablecloths with The Hay Wain on it, but generally The Cornfield is easier to represent on objects," he said.

8 The exhibition runs from 14 February until 21 April.