Early Constable works on public show for first time at new Ipswich exhibition

A portrait of John Constable in 1796, at the age of 20, by Daniel Gardner, on loan from the V&A 

A portrait of John Constable in 1796, at the age of 20, by Daniel Gardner, on loan from the V&A - Credit: V&A Museum

An exhibition dedicated to artist John Constable, opens at Christchurch Mansion this weekend - with four works going on show for the first time. 

The Creating Constable exhibition will open at the Mansion's Wolsey Art Gallery on Saturday, November 27, and run until April 24, 2022. It is free with no need to book.

The sketchbook that contains works by John Constable, compiled by his relations the Masons in Colchester

The sketchbook that contains works by John Constable, compiled by his relations the Masons in Colchester - Credit: Colchester + Ipswich Museums Service

Four early Constable works recently acquired by Ipswich Museums, with support from the Friends of the Ipswich Museums, the Art Fund and the V&A Purchase Fund, will go on public display for the first time.

The recently discovered artworks were found in a scrapbook compiled by Constable’s relations, the Masons in Colchester, and include a portrait of his brother Abram and early landscapes.

Golding Constable's Flower Garden, from 1815

Golding Constable's Flower Garden, from 1815, will be in the Creating Constable exhibition at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich - Credit: Colchester + Ipswich Museums Service

The exhibition's timing coincides with the 200th anniversary of The Hay Wain, one of the great landscape painter's most famous works. It is also 200 years since the death of Suffolk artist George Frost, Constable’s early mentor, whose works will be featured.

The Granary in Flatford is also currently staging an exhibition to mark the anniversary of The Hay Wain, which is in the National Gallery.  

Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council’s museums service portfolio holder, said: “2021 is a significant year for the great painter, John Constable. This exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to highlight his work and the wider Ipswich art collection, giving the people of our town an opportunity to see works by some of Suffolk’s most famous artists.”

Shipping on the Orwell, near Ipswich by John Constable, from around 1806-1809

Shipping on the Orwell, near Ipswich by John Constable, from around 1806-1809 - Credit: V&A Museum

Richard Wilson, chair of the Friends of the Ipswich Museums, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this important exhibition. It features many works from Ipswich’s own collections, and celebrates how the career of Suffolk artist John Constable, who changed how we look at landscape, was shaped by other local artists, many of whom have been overlooked.”

The event will explore Constable’s artistic roots by revealing stories about Suffolk artists, family, friends, and early supporters who helped him build a career.

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Visitors will also be able to see works by Thomas Gainsborough, John Dunthorne, Elizabeth Cobbold and Thomas Churchyard, as well as George Frost.

A watercolour of Wolsey's Gate by George Frost, who was John Constable's mentor

A watercolour of Wolsey's Gate by George Frost, who was John Constable's mentor - Credit: Colchester + Ipswich Museums Service

Ipswich holds the largest collection of works by Frost in any public collection with over 300 drawings and paintings. This will be the first time in many years that these collections have been on display, and the first time that they have been digitised for online access.

Key loans from the V&A collections will be included which show Ipswich in the 1800s, as well as artworks from the East Anglian Traditional Art Centre depicting the influence of Constable.

The research behind the exhibition has been supported by funding from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, while Kerseys Solicitors have also supported the event.

Find more things to do by visiting Head East.

The Deserted Cottage, a watercolour, pen and grey ink landscape by John Constable, from around 1796-7 

The Deserted Cottage, a watercolour, pen and grey ink landscape by John Constable, from around 1796-7 - Credit: Colchester + Ipswich Museums Service

An oil painting of Willy Lott's House, near Flatford Mill by John Constable, from around 1810-15, on loan from the V&A

An oil painting of Willy Lott's House, near Flatford Mill by John Constable, from around 1810-15, on loan from the V&A - Credit: V&A Museum


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