Happy Birthday John Constable! (1776-1837)

11 June 2020

This week marked the 244th anniversary of the birth of John Constable, who was born on 11th June 1776. The son of a corn merchant, Constable was born at East Bergholt, Suffolk, where he painted some of his best- known works. But did you know that Constable also lived in Hampstead? From 1819, Constable and his young family spent regular periods in Hampstead Village, at one time living in a house on Well Walk, just opposite Burgh House! As well as offering a peaceful respite from busy city life, Hampstead was a fashionable Spa Town that was renowned for its 'medicinal' chalybeate waters; an ideal retreat for Constable's ailing wife Maria. During his time in Hampstead, Constable embarked upon one of the most significant phases in his artistic career where he painted some of his best loved scenes.

Although revered for his moving and dramatic landscapes, Constable also painted remarkable portraits such as this painting of Dr Herbert Evans, which is on long-term loan to Burgh House alongside a portrait of Dr Evans's mother, Deborah Mascall. Dr Evans also lived in Hampstead and was Constable's family doctor who cared for his wife Maria before she died. Constable admired and respected Dr Evans and he became one of his closest friends. It is likely that this portrait, which was completed just after Maria died, was painted as a token of the artist's gratitude for his care, support and friendship.

"He is a skilful and honest doctor, a very sensible man with great acquirements, and a most sincere friend, so that I have many blessings yet."
Letter from John Constable to C.R. Leslie 
Hampstead, January 1832