A chance encounter
3 January 2011
When formatting new images of RAMM’s Constable drawings for the website John Madin, RAMM’s Curator of Art, was struck by the resemblance of one of the portraits to the well known 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 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.