John Constable

The Revd Dr James Andrew


Not on display

John Constable 1776–1837
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 775 × 645 mm
frame: 955 × 825 × 120 mm
Purchased 1950

Display caption

Initially finding only occasional buyers for his landscapes, Constable was forced to supplement the allowance he received from his parents by undertaking portrait commissions. This portrait of the first Head of the East India Company’s Military Seminary at Addiscombe, Croydon, is one of over one hundred portraits he produced during his lifetime. Constable adopts the traditional portrait format, the right arm of the sitter tucked in to his waistcoat and his other arm resting on what was presumably one of the many books Andrew had authored.

Gallery label, May 2007

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Catalogue entry

N05965 The Revd Dr James Andrew 1818

Oil on canvas, 30 1/2×25 3/8 (77.5×64.5).

Inscribed on a label on the stretcher: ‘Revd. James Andrew L.L.D. by. John Constable R.A. Novr. 1818’.
Prov: by descent from the sitter to Brigadier-General W.H. Fasken, sold Sotheby's 2 August 1944 (123, with No.16 below), bt. Donovan; Eardley Knollys, from whom bt. by Agnew's 1948; purchased from Agnew's by the Tate Gallery 1950. Accession N05965.
Lit: Shirley 1937, p.100; Chamot 1956, p.261; Beckett 1961, Paintings: Misc. VII(3) No.1; Hoozee 1979, No.248.

James Andrew (1774–1833)1 was the first Head of the East India Company's Military Seminary at Addiscombe, Croydon, Surrey. Educated at Aberdeen, he took various teaching posts in Scotland and England before establishing his own private academy at Addiscombe. The East India Company sent its artillery and engineer cadets to this and other establishments but in 1809 decided to centralise its cadet training by setting up its own college. Andrew's work at Addiscombe seems to have been approved and the Company acquired a larger property there, Addiscombe House, appointing Andrew Head Master and Professor of Mathematics. He retired in 1822 and died at Edinburgh eleven years later. His publications included Astronomical and Nautical Tables (1805), Institutes of Grammar and Chronological Tables (1817), Key to Scriptural Chronology (1822) and Hebrew Grammar and Dictionary without Points (1823).

Military and civil drawing played a large part in the curriculum of the college. During most of Andrew's time at Addiscombe the master of civil drawing was Turner's friend W.F. Wells, who had been the second President of the Society of Painters in Water Colours. It is not known how Constable met Dr and Mrs Andrew (he does not, for example, appear to have been a friend of Wells), though Mrs Fasken, widow of Andrew's descendant Brigadier-General Fasken, said in 1944 that ‘He [Andrew] & his wife were personal friends of Constables’.2 Only one reference to Andrew in the Constable correspondence has been found. In a letter of 8 November 1818, Abram Constable wrote to his brother John, ‘I am uncommonly pleas'd with your Acct of Dr. Andrew's business I hope the result will answer as it ought after such perseverence & true industry more satisfaction arises I'll take upon me to say from such conduct than if the money had been put into your hands without an exertion on your part & success must attend a perseverence in such a line of conduct’ (JCC I, p.173). Bearing in mind the dates inscribed on the backs of the pictures, Abram was presumably referring here to Constable's work on No.15 and the companion portrait of Andrew's wife (No.16).

1. The information about Dr Andrew and about Addiscombe given here is derived from: The Gentleman's Magazine, 1833, ii, p.89; H.M. Vibart, Addiscombe. Its Heroes and Men of Note, 1894; D.N.B.; Mildred Archer, British Drawing in the India Office Library, 1969, I, pp.6–7; and a copy at the Tate Gallery of a family letter written in 1923 which quotes extracts made by one of Andrew's grandchildren from Andrew's own papers dealing with the years 1781–1801 (the original of the 1923 letter, from one G.F. Hodges to his cousin Dora, was with Mrs Fasken in 1944).

2. Letter at the Tate Gallery from Mrs Fasken to Sotheby & Co., 14 September 1944.

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

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