Portrait of Maria Bicknell, Mrs John Constable is an 1816 painting by English Romantic landscape artist John Constable. This work is located in the Tate Museum in London, England.
Maria Bicknell was the beloved wife of John Constable. Born in 1788 in East Bergholt, Suffolk, Maria was the daughter of a prosperous businessman, and her family’s social standing initially posed a challenge to her relationship with Constable, who was the son of a mill owner and did not share the same financial status.
The couple met in their youth and fell deeply in love. However, due to financial disparities and Maria’s family objections, their courtship faced resistance. John Constable’s persistence and dedication to Maria were evident in their ten-year engagement, during which he ardently pursued his artistic career while working towards securing a stable future for both of them.
Maria Bicknell and John Constable’s marriage finally became a reality in 1816 at St Martin’s-in-the-Fields, marking the end of a long and challenging courtship. The union, however, brought its own set of difficulties, as Constable continued to grapple with financial pressures. Despite these challenges, their marriage was characterized by mutual affection and support.
Maria played a significant role in Constable’s life, providing emotional stability and encouragement during times of artistic frustration and financial strain. She also embraced the role of a dedicated wife and mother, raising their children while Constable pursued his artistic endeavors. Despite the demands of domestic life, Maria’s presence in Constable’s world was a source of inspiration, influencing some of his most celebrated works.
Tragically, Maria’s life was cut short at the age of 41 in 1828, leaving Constable devastated. Her death had a profound impact on him, and he mourned her loss deeply. Constable’s grief found expression in some of his later works, where he portrayed scenes of melancholy and remembrance. Notable among these is “Golding Constable’s Flower Garden,” where he painted a vibrant representation of the garden Maria loved, intertwining his memories of her with the beauty of nature.
Maria Bicknell’s legacy is intertwined with Constable’s artistic journey. Her support and influence are evident in the emotional depth of his paintings and the intimate portrayals of family life. The letters exchanged between Maria and Constable also provide insights into their relationship, revealing a deep emotional connection that transcended societal expectations.
In the years following Maria’s death, Constable continued to produce remarkable works, but the loss of his wife remained a poignant theme in his art. His dedication to preserving Maria’s memory is reflected in his letters, where he expressed the enduring impact of her presence on his life.