John Constable:
Maria Bicknell

Click on the picture to see an enlarged version.

    • Oil on canvas
    • 10 July 1816
    • Tate Gallery, London

Although he is known primarily as a landscape painter, Constable was quite accomplished as a portrait artist as well. This charming picture is of the woman with whom he fell passionately in love, Maria Bicknell. Her family, especially her Grandfather, the Rector of East Bergholt, were scandalized. How could an impoverished artist, even though he came from good family in the neighborhood, provide a sufficient livelihood for their girl. They prohibited the marriage and tried to do their best to break up the relationship.

But Constable and Maria persisted in a courtship that eventually lasted seven years! Only upon the death of his father did Constable become financially secure enough to marry, and they did so against her family's continued objections. This portrait was painteda few months before their marriage. They were extraordinarily happy in their long-delayed married life, but it was to be tragically short. Maria Constable died only 12 years later in 1828, and Constable never recovered the joyful outlook which permeates his earlier paintings.

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