"New" portraits by John Constable discovered

Wed Mar 4, 2009 11:44am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The curators of a new exhibition on John Constable say they have unearthed two works that were previously wrongly attributed but are in fact portraits of his parents by the British landscapist.

A portrait of Ann, Constable's mother, is by the artist and not another painter as originally thought, while the man in the second portrait is his father Golding and not Constable's schoolmaster Thomas Grimwood, the curators said.

"We started looking into the history of the picture and there was no record that he ever painted his schoolmaster," said Anne Lyles, an authority on the works of Constable who with writer and critic Martin Gayford made the discoveries.

The portrait of Golding, painted in around 1805, is featured in a new exhibition "Constable Portraits: The Painter and His Circle" at London's National Portrait Gallery, where it hangs near another portrayal of his father who has similar features.

"Then we had this resemblance and in all probability it's a pair," Lyles told Reuters.

The picture of Ann was not included in the exhibition because it was in poor condition, she added.

The portraits were sold at auctioneer Sotheby's in 1926 by a descendant of Constable, and the same year the buyer donated them to the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service where they have remained ever since.

The co-curators believe they were both misidentified at the auction, leading to confusion over who painted one and who was painted in the other.   Continued...