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Constable in Love by Martin Gayford – Exhibiting a Painter’s Love Story

Martin Gayford has been art critic of the Spectator and the Sunday Telegraph. He is currently chief European art critic for Bloomberg and lives in Cambridge with his wife and two children.

“Constable in Love” is a romantic story about John Constable — one of the grand masters of English painting, fell in love with Maria Bicknell, granddaughter of a Suffolk country neighbour, Dr. Rhudde. The story begins with the description of Constable — his achievements and his family background is also plotted well. In 1800, when he was 24, he met a 12-year-old with a sweet and winsome face, who was visiting her grandfather, the wealthy, rector of the parish. From 1809 onwards, his childhood friendship with Maria Bicknell developed into a deep, mutual love. They soon fell in love and immediately found their plans for future happiness beset with problems since their engagement in 1816 was opposed by Maria’s grandfather, who considered the Constables his social inferiors and threatened Maria with disinheritance.

Maria Bicknell was intelligent, attractive, refined and delicate, as befitted the daughter of a well-known and successful London lawyer, Charles. But one of the most important things about her was that she and Constable knew one another from East Bergholt. From Constable’s point of view, she was thus a natural muse, the embodiment of the landscape which was always at the centre of his art. After the rejection of his marriage proposal by Maria’s grandpa, Maria herself pointed out that a penniless marriage would detract from any chances John had of making a career in painting.

Now its upto the hero of this story to bring out himself as a successful individual and to stay connected with his love interest, Maria after such a worse disappointment in his marriage plans. Did he triumphs in his love and career?

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