Ipswich Museums to Open Creating Constable Exhibition in 2021

The Deserted Cottage, Watercolour, pen and grey ink

A new exhibition at Christchurch Mansion’s Wolsey Art Gallery will explore the work of one of Suffolk’s most famous artists – John Constable. The research behind the exhibition has been supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and sponsored in part by Kerseys Solicitors. 

The announcement comes 245 years since the renowned landscape painter’s birth on 11 June 1776. 

2021 is a significant year for John Constable, as this year marks the 200th anniversary of The Hay Wain, one of his most famous works. It is also 200 years since the death of Suffolk artist George Frost, who was Constable’s early mentor. 

The Mason Family scrapbook containing the Constable artworks

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 Constable with the foundations on which to build a career.

As well as works by John 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.

The Common Quay, Ipswich, 1820, oil on canvas by George Frost 1744-1821. Created by ImageGear, AccuSoft Corp.

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. Four new John Constable works recently acquired by the Ipswich Museums service will also be displayed 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.

Councillor Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council’s Museums Service Portfolio Holder, has said: “This exhibition will be a wonderful opportunity to highlight the Ipswich art collection and for the people of our town to see works by some of Suffolk’s most famous artists.”

The exhibition will open at Christchurch Mansion from 27 November 2021 to 24 April 2022.

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