John Constable

Mary Ann Bridges at the Harpsichord with Two of her Sisters


View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Graphite on paper
Support: 237 x 188 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

Display caption

During the early years of his career Constable painted portraits and altarpieces as well as landscape oils. This pencil sketch is a study for his large group portrait of 'The Bridges Family' in the Tate Gallery. The finished picture shows George Bridges, a banker and merchant, with his wife and eight children in their Essex home, Lawford Place. At the time Constable was painting the portrait, he was said to have 'showed an admiration' for the eldest daughter, Mary Ann, shown here playing the harpsichord with two of her sisters. His visits were consequently discouraged, perhaps because he was perceived as an inappropriate suitor.

Gallery label, September 2004