Christchurch Mansion celebrates Constable anniversary with major exhibition

Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich is about to host a large Constable exhibition featuring many of his

Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich is about to host a large Constable exhibition featuring many of his paintings and drawings . Curator Emma Roodhouse helps look after the Ipswich Constable collection - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

This year marks the 200th anniversary of John Constable’s Suffolk masterpiece The Hay Wain and to celebrate Christchurch Mansion will be staging a landmark Constable exhibition this autumn.

Creating Constable, the new exhibition at Christchurch Mansion’s Wolsey Art Gallery, will explore Constable’s artistic roots and will also shine a light on how he influenced other artists. New research has revealed stories about Suffolk artists, family, friends, and early supporters who provided Constable with the foundations on which to build a career.

Portrait of Jane Anne Mason later Mrs James Inglis 1792-1876 Pencil,

Portrait of Jane Anne Mason later Mrs James Inglis 1792-1876 Pencil, inscribed in a contemporary hand lower right J.A.I by J.C. St. Mary’s 1809 - one of the new works going on display at Christchurch Mansion - Credit: Ipswich Museums

The show will put on display, for the first time, four new John Constable works recently acquired by the Ipswich Museums service. 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.

Portrait of Abram Constable 1783-1862, Pencil

Portrait of Abram Constable 1783-1862, Pencil - one of the new works recently added to the Ipswich collection - Credit: Ipswich Museums

2021 is a significant year for John Constable, in addition to the Hay Wain bicentenary, it also marks 200 years since the death of Suffolk artist George Frost, who was Constable’s early mentor.

The Common Quay, Ipswich, 1820, oil on canvas by George Frost 1744-1821

The Common Quay, Ipswich, 1820, oil on canvas by George Frost 1744-1821 which will be featured in the new Constable exhibition. Frost was Constable's mentor - Credit: Ipswich Museums

Ipswich holds the largest collection of works by Constable outside London and it is also home to the largest number 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 Deserted Cottage, Watercolour, pen and grey ink

The Deserted Cottage, Watercolour, pen and grey ink - a recent addition to the Ipswich collection - Credit: Ipswich Museums


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In addition to 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. 

Key loans from the V&A collections will be included which will show Ipswich in the 1800s, as well as artworks from the East Anglian Traditional Art Centre depicting the influence of Constable. 

The Mason Family scrapbook containing the Constable artworks

The Mason Family scrapbook containing the Constable artworks - Credit: Ipswich Museums

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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 November 27, 2021 to April 24, 2022. 

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