John Constable’s painting The Opening of Waterloo Bridge, which was exhibited in 1832, is an oil on canvas depiction of the inaugural celebration of the Waterloo Bridge. It showcases the vibrancy and liveliness of urban life as seen from the bridge. The painting underwent a comprehensive cleaning process taking more than 270 hours to restore it to its original glory in 2021.
Constable pioneered new techniques to capture the movement of wind blowing through trees and flowing water, making this painting one of his most celebrated works. His first attempt at composing the piece was sketched out in a recently discovered drawing. Based on a panorama view from Whitehall to St Paul’s as seen from Pembroke House’s garden, this painting encapsulates London during an exciting time.
The Tate Gallery based in London owns The Opening of Waterloo Bridge, which remains one of Constable’s pivotal works exhibiting his signature plein air style alongside his newer approach towards light and texture. This artwork has become an essential part of British art history and serves as a testament to the innovation that led to some significant restoration efforts more than two centuries later.