Porch of East Bergholt Church
With the moon rising, or the sun setting behind the porch, three figures walk on the path leading to the porch.
The canvas has been relined at an unknown date and the new stretcher inscribed ‘Church Porch evening’.
Constable painted few moonlit views, its mood is reflective, similar to the mood of Thomas Gray’s ‘Elegy written in a Country Churchyard’ a poem published in 1751
At this time Constable was courting Maria Bicknell (Granddaughter of the Rector of the Parish) having only been given permission by her father to write to her from October the previous year, Constable engaged in the habit of spending the summer and autumn in East Bergholt and the winter months in his studio in London.
By 1809 Constable was living on a allowance of just £100 a year. However Maria Bicknell's father (Charles Bicknell, Solicitor to the Prince Regent and the Admiralty) and grandfather Dr Rhudde (Rector of East Bergholt) opposed their attachment. They did not marry until 1816 and once Constable had inherited substantially from his father’s estate. That said, none of the Bicknell nor the Constable families attended the marriage. Maria was disinherited by her grandfather but her father did soften and gave his daughter an allowance of £50 a year. When Dr Rhudde died in 1819 he left £4000 to each of his grandchildren, including Maria.
Donated to the V&A by Isabel Constable, daughter of the artist in 1888
*Isabel Constable was the last surviving daughter of the painter and gave the contents of her father’s studio to the Victoria & Albert Museum, making them the principal collector of Constable's work which included 395 oil paintings, sketches, drawings, watercolours and sketchbooks.