Exhibition catalogue text
79a Shipping in the Thames or Medway 1803
Grey wash over pencil on laid paper 9.7 x 16.8 (3 7/8 x 6 5/8)
79b Shipping in the Thames or Medway 1803
Grey wash over pencil on laid paper 9.8 x 16.7 (3 7/8 x 6 5/8); verso: another sketch of shipping, pencil, inscribed '5'
'Had I accepted the situation offered it would have been a death blow to all my prospects of perfection in the Art I love.' In a letter of 29 May 1802 (Beckett 1964, pp.31-2), Constable expressed his relief at having recently turned down the post of drawing master at the Royal Military Academy in Great Marlow. The decision seems to have prompted him, as he wrote in the same letter, to think 'more seriously on my profession than at any time of my life'. He had now become convinced 'of the truth of Sir Joshua Reynolds's observation that "there is no easy way of becoming a good painter" ... only ... by long contemplation and incessant labour'. It remained a cherished conviction…