This informal portrait by Constable is of Jane Mason (born c.1792) the daughter of a solicitor from Colchester, Essex. Her mother, Anne, was Constable's first cousin. On 19 June 1808, Constable's brother, Abram, wrote to him with the following news: 'the Masons are coming to Town on Tuesday, they reckon upon seeing you. . . Jane is to be with them, you will think her grown.' This portrait was probably painted during that visit, when Jane was about 16 years old.
Jane later married James Inglis and the couple had six children. However, on 23 October 1823, Abram wrote to his brother again, reporting the 'serious illness' of Mr. Inglis: 'Jane will be in trouble and great trouble, as they are much in debt. . . What a lamentable state is Mrs. Inglis in.' James died a year later and the children were sent to live with Jane's parents.
At about the age of her mother in this portrait, the eldest of the children (also named Jane Inglis) was encouraged by Constable in her enthusiasm for painting. In 1833, the painter lent her a landscape by Claude Lorrain (c.1600-1682), with instructions to copy the work. Returning the Claude painting in 1834, Jane senior, wrote to Constable on her daughter's behalf: 'I cannot find words to thank you. . . we shall rejoice to see you if you come into Suffolk.'
This painting passed by descent through the sitter's family, until it was sold at Christie's in 1994 and purchased by the Government Art Collection.
Born at East Bergholt in Suffolk, John Constable was the son of a miller. He claimed that the Suffolk countryside which surrounded him as a child ‘made him a painter’. In 1806, he visited the Lake District and in 1827 settled in Hampstead. Constable’s paintings ‘The Hay Wain’ and ‘View on the Stour’ were awarded the Gold Medal at the Paris Salon in 1824. The great success of these and other works exhibited in France had a significant effect on the development of the Barbizon School of landscape painters and works of the Romantic Movement. After Constable’s sudden death in 1837, a large collection of his work was bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum by his daughter.
By descent through the family of the sitter; 'The Property of a Lady of Title'; by whom sold through Christie's, London, on 11 November 1994 (Lot 18); from which sale purchased by the Government Art Collection
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