John Constable

Susannah Lloyd

1806

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 600 x 502 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Miss Edith Dorothy Engstrom 1969
Reference
T01141

Display caption

Constable painted portraits of several sons, daughters and daughters-in-law of the Quaker banker Charles Lloyd of Birmingham. In 1805 Thomas married Susannah Lloyd whose attractive personality is captured in this expressive portrait. The couple set up home in Edmund Street, Birmingham. It is not known exactly what business Thomas’ firm, Wallis and Lloyd, was engaged in, though the family historian Humphrey Lloyd found evidence of dealings in ‘forks and hearth-brushes’, as well as of large receipts of money from America.

Gallery label, May 2007

Catalogue entry

T01141 Susannah Lloyd 1806

Oil on canvas, 23 5/8×19 1/4 (60×50.2). Inscribed on a damaged label on the stretcher ‘Portrait of Mrs L[...] in Oils taken by Constable’. The label was intact when the picture was inspected before acquisition by the Tate Gallery: the name was read as ‘Lloyd’ on that occasion.

Prov: presumably commissioned by the sitter or her husband, Thomas Lloyd of Birmingham; their youngest daughter, Agatha, who married George Engström in 1834; their son Charles Robert Lloyd Engström; bequeathed to the Tate Gallery by his daughter Miss E.D.Engström 1969. Accession T01141.
Lit: Hoozee 1979, No.45.

Constable painted portraits of several sons, daughters and daughters-in-law of the Quaker banker Charles Lloyd of Birmingham (1748–1828). While staying with the Hardens at Brathay Hall during his visit to the Lake District in 1806 Constable met the banker's eldest son, the poet Charles Lloyd (1775–1839), who lived nearby at Old Brathay with his wife Sophia. Through them, in turn, he met Wordsworth and Coleridge (see JCC V, pp.74–5). Constable's portraits of Charles Lloyd Jr (Fig. 1, whereabouts unknown, h.41)1 and of ‘Sophia Lloyd and Child’ (Fig.2, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Mass., h.42)2 were presumably painted during his stay in the Lake District. Other Lloyd portraits were definitely painted in Birmingham. Writing from Old Brathay on 2 November 1806, Charles Lloyd asked his brother Robert in Birmingham, ‘Is Mr Constable gone yet? I do hope that he will not become ‘troublesome -’.3 Just how the artist might become ‘troublesome’ is, unfortunately, not suggested. Since Constable was still in the Lake District on 19 October, and had obviously been in Birmingham for a while when Charles wrote on 2 November, he may have travelled direct from the Lakes to Birmingham without first returning to London.

The portraits executed in Birmingham included those of James Lloyd (1776–1853), second son of Charles Lloyd Sr and a partner in the family bank (Fig.3, Private Collection, tg 1976 No.78, h.43),4 his wife Sarah (whereabouts unknown; last recorded in the family in 1911), and No.3, Susannah, née Whitehead (died 1840), who in 1805 married the banker's fourth son, Thomas Lloyd (1779–1811), a partner in the Birmingham firm of Wallis and Lloyd. A portrait in a private collection of Hannah, wife of the third son, Robert Lloyd (1778–1811), has also been attributed to Constable but is rather different in character to the other works. James, Thomas and Robert all lived in Birmingham. In 1806 their sister Priscilla (1781–1815) was established in London, where her husband, William Wordsworth's brother Christopher, was vicar of St Mary's, Lambeth and chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Constable's portrait of her (Fig.4, Private Collection, h.46)5 seems likely to have been painted there rather than in Birmingham.6 The date inscribed on James Lloyd's portrait- ‘Decr: 1806’-may suggest that Constable's Birmingham visit was a protracted one, though he may have paid two visits or have finished and dated James' portrait in London.

Although the label on the back of No.3 refers (or, rather, referred) simply to ‘Mrs Lloyd’, there is little doubt that Susannah is the sitter. Constable's portraits of the Lloyds are known to have descended within the respective branches of the family and the donor of No.3 was a direct descendant of Thomas and Susannah. The sitter in No.3 does not, in any case, resemble Sophia or Hannah as they appear in the portraits mentioned above, and No.3 is unlikely to be the missing portrait of Sarah, who was aged about thirty-four in 1806, i.e. rather older than the sitter in No.3 seems to be. The only other candidate is Frances or Fanny Bettenson, who married the fifth son, Plumsted Lloyd (1780–1836), but there is little reason why a portrait of her should have been transferred to the Engström side of the family.

After their marriage in 1805, Thomas and Susannah Lloyd set up home in Edmund Street, Birmingham. It is not known exactly what business Thomas' firm, Wallis and Lloyd, was engaged in, though the family historian Humphrey Lloyd found evidence of dealings in ‘forks and hearth-brushes’ as well as of large receipts of money from America. 7 Like his brother Robert and sister Caroline, Thomas died of typhus in 1811. When another of Constable's patrons, Henry Greswolde Lewis (see No.5 below), told the artist in 1819 that ‘Your friend Mr Lloyd has been dead some years-’ (JCC IV, p.62), he was presumably referring to either Thomas or Robert Lloyd. The other sons and their father, the banker, were still alive then.

1. Oil on canvas, 29 1/2×24 1/2 (74.9×62.2) according to Holmes 1902, p.241. Fig.1 is taken from the reproduction published in E.V.Lucas, Charles Lamb and the Lloyds, 1898, facing p.237.

2. No.1960.40. Oil on canvas, 26 5/8×32 (67.6×81.3).

3. Humphrey Lloyd, The Quaker Lloyds in the Industrial Revolution, 1975, p.231, quoting Lloyd Ms. 3/109 in Friends House Library, London.

4. Oil on canvas, 29 15/16×25 (76×63.5). Inscribed ‘Constable. fDecr: 1806’.

5. Oil on canvas, 28×24 (71.1×61).

6. Humphrey Lloyd, op. cit., p.231, definitely states that Priscilla was painted in London but he does not give a source. He also says that in Birmingham Constable painted ‘first James and Sarah, then Hannah, and after that Susannah’. Again, no source is given. Since Constable was in Birmingham at the beginning of November 1806, James' portrait, dated December, is unlikely to have been the first of the series, unless it was put aside and only completed in December. Humphrey Lloyd died soon after the publication of his book and it has not been possible to discover the sources of all his information.

7. Humphrey Lloyd, op. cit., pp.229–30.


Published in:
Leslie Parris, The Tate Gallery Constable Collection, London 1981

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