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Constable, John, 1776–1837

Letter to John Thomas Smith.

1797, between January 16 and March 23.
Physical Description:
1 item (1 p.) : ill. ; 28 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
ND497 C7 L47 1843+ Copy 2 Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Information
Related Content:
View the catalog record for the host volume, Memoirs of the life of John Constable.
Archives & Manuscripts
Written in pen and black ink.
Subject Terms:
Artists -- Great Britain -- Correspondence.
Constable, John, 1776-1837 -- Correspondence.
Constable, John, 1776-1837 -- Homes and haunts -- England -- East Bergholt.
East Bergholt (England) -- In art.
Etching -- Technique.
Smith, John Thomas, 1766-1833 -- Correspondence.
Ink drawings.
IIIF Manifest:

"John Constable first met the printmaker and draftsman John Thomas Smith in the summer of 1796. Smith had evidently given young Constable some instructions in a previous letter on the technique of etching. Constable writes here: "I think You told me that You made Your Aqua Fortis with spts of Nitre with two parts Water, I suppose You ment the acid spts. I bought some Aqua Fortis at a neighbouring Town and belive have spoilt one plate with it not knowng what strength it was of.” The letter ends with a sketch of the view looking northeast from one of the windows at the back of Constable's family home in East Bergholt, Suffolk. The letter is bound in a remarkable extra-illustrated copy of Charles Robert Leslie's biography of John Constable, first published in 1843. Leslie (1791-1859), a genre painter and author, evidently prepared this copy around 1851 for Nora G. Dunlop, the wife of his patron, James Dunlop. Besides a number of original letters by Constable, the volume includes two drawings by the artist, as well as eight now attributed to his son Lionel Bicknell Constable (1828-87). In addition to the prints by David Lucas after John Constable, published as part of Leslie's original “Memoirs,” there are thirty-eight prints by various other artists and engravers, as well as drawings and letters by John Thomas Smith, Joseph Farington, Francis Danby, Thomas Stothard, John Flaxman, and Richard Wilson. Also bound in is a letter of 11 February 1846 from the artist Ramsay Richard Reinagle to William Henry Ince, stating that he is enclosing a brief sketch of his life -- present here -- and noting that "Mr. Constable was taught by me the whole Art of Painting. When his Father, who was a rich Miller at Bergholt in Suffolk, dismissed him his house for loving the Art as a profession, I received him into my house for 6 months, & furnished him every thing he wanted -- even money." -- Elisabeth Fairman. Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 306, no. 136, N5220.M552 P38 2007+ OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Paul Mellon's Legacy : A Passion for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

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