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This is a portrait of Constable’s future wife, Maria Bicknell. He first met her when she was staying with her grandfather, the Reverend Dr Rhudde, at East Bergholt rectory.

In February 1816, a few months before they were to marry, Constable wrote in a letter to Maria that it had been seven years since he had first declared his love for her. This drawing may have been made around that time, in 1809, when Maria was about twenty-one. However, it may have been drawn a few years earlier.

September 2004