A drawing in the collection of Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) has been found to record the meeting of two of England’s most famous artists; John Constable and William Wordsworth.
When formatting new images of RAMM’s Constable drawings for the website, RAMM’s curator of art, John Madin, was struck by the resemblance of one of the portraits to the English poet William Wordsworth.
These two giants of the early 19th century met in September 1806 when Constable visited the Lake District on a sketching tour. At this time Wordsworth was living at Dove Cottage in Grasmere and they met at a social gathering at nearby Brathay Hall where Constable was staying. They didn’t become close friends but met at least once more in London in 1812.
The drawing differs from RAMM’s other Constable portrait sketches in that it is a more closely observed study on a larger scale. Comparison with other portraits of Wordsworth by Henry Edridge and William Carruthers at Dove Cottage and Robert Hancock at the National Portrait Gallery confirmed the curator’s suspicions. It certainly looks like RAMM has a visual document of great importance, probably created when artist and poet met at Brathay Hall that September.
Images of William Wordsworth can be seen on the Dove Cottage & Wordsworth Museum website.
(Image: Constable’s drawing of Wordsworth in the RAMM’s collection)