Creating Constable exhibition opens

Colchester + Ipswich Museums Service - John Constable (1776-1837), Golding Constable's Flower Garden, 1815, Oil on canvas.

The ‘Creating Constable’ exhibition, which explores the work of one of Suffolk’s most famous artists – John Constable, is set to open at Christchurch Mansion.

The timely exhibition, which opens at the Mansion’s Wolsey Art Gallery from 27 November 2021 to 24 April 2022, coincides with the 200th anniversary of The Hay Wain, one of Constable’s most famous works. It is also 200 years since the death of Suffolk artist George Frost, who was Constable’s early mentor.

To mark this significant bicentenary, the ‘Creating Constable’ exhibition will explore Constable’s artistic roots by revealing stories about Suffolk artists, family, friends, and early supporters who provided him with the foundations on which to build a career.

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 also be 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.

The research behind the exhibition has been supported by funding from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and support for the exhibition has also been provided by the Friends of the Ipswich Museums and Kerseys Solicitors.

As well as works by Constable, visitors will also be able to view pieces by other notable Suffolk artists, including Thomas Gainsborough, George Frost, John Dunthorne, Elizabeth Cobbold and Thomas Churchyard.

Today, 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, reaching a wider audience than ever before.

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.

Councillor Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council’s Museums Service Portfolio Holder, said: “2021 is a significant year for the great painter, John Constable, and 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.”

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.”

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