Constable In Love

Anton Lesser reads Martin Gayford's account of the early career of John Constable and his long battle to win the hand of his future wife, Maria Bicknell, based on correspondence between the pair.

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01*20090223
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Constable first met Maria Bicknell, the daughter of a wealthy lawyer, in the Suffolk village of East Bergholt when he was 24 and she was 12.

Nine years later they began courting.

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Lacking 'that necessary article - cash', the courtship between Maria and John was never going to be straightforward, particularly when Maria's family began to make their disapproval felt.

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Opposition to the courtship between John and Maria was particularly fierce from her wealthy and influential grandfather, Dr Rhudde.

But Constable remained as determined that they should marry as he was to succeed as a landscape painter.

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After seven years of courtship, Maria and John finally married in a quiet ceremony with no family members in attendance.

Now the serious production of paintings and of children could begin in earnest.