Weymouth Bay: Bowleaze Cove and Jordon Hill John Constable Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This famous Dorset landscape and seascape scene is thought to be inspired by Constable's stay in the clifftop village of Osmington on his honeymoon in 1816. The view of the coast from Osmington is an extensive and dramatic one and Constable was obviously captured by it, and created the painting between 1816 and 1817.

The painting is oil on canvas, with the dimensions 53 cm × 75 cm or 21 in × 30 in, and it is thought that a larger copy of the painting once existed, and was exhibited at the British Institution, the larger canvas was known as Osmington Shore, but is untraceable. John Constable was a renowned landscape artist, and this landscape of his, while not his most famous work, was a special piece in being inspired by his honeymoon on the Dorset coast. The painting depicts Weymouth Bay, Bowleaze Cove and Jordon Hill from the shore below Osmington Cliffs.

The west-looking scene in the picture looks rather different then as it does now, as, in the artist's day, this was still a very rural and unspoiled area, whereas now you have more buildings and signs of human life in the same landscape. The picture shows the beach at Osmington, and the edge of the lowest cliffs on the right, with the sea lapping into the picture on the left. In the picture you look towards Bowleaze Cove and onwards along Weymouth Bay. In the centre, the small Jordon River joins the sea, with Jordon Hill rising behind it. Onwards you can just see Greenhill Beach over at Weymouth. Above the scene, the sky is expansive and light blue, but partially covered with tall grey clouds.

The colours of the painting are expert and not overdone. The rocks on the beach to the forefront are individual colours, while the beach is a light brown and gold, paling towards white at the edge of the cliffs as a reminder of the chalk cliffs of this end of Weymouth Bay. The sea takes on a dark colour, reflecting the clouds above, while ahead, the hill is green on the short grass and brown with the dying bracken further up. A path runs up the hill, and just before the hill is a figure, possibly with dogs, heading to or from the hill. Towards Bowleaze Cove, the soft stone cliffs are darkened by the shadow of cloud, while further on, Weymouth, behind Greenhill Beach, is in shadows of black and white. Above the scene the light blue sky hints sunlight but is dominated by the ragged and towering grey clouds.