Abram Constable (detail) by John Constable - 1806
Abram Constable 1783-1862
Abram was seven years younger than John, the youngest child and baby of the family. He was handsome sociable and enjoyed parties which his more serious minded brother usually avoided. Although Abram never married he was an exceptionally caring man – for example he was:
- a messenger between his parents and John when the latter was struggling as a student and later as an artist in London
- enthusiastic about his brother’s talent and cheered him up when he became depressed about his painting
- on hand when his parents died, organising their funerals, arranging the sale and clearance of the family home
- caring of his siblings whenever the need arose
- a diligent uncle to Constable’s children
- an indispensable administrator of the Constable grain and transport businesses
Abram sold the milling business in 1846 and lived in East Bergholt until his death at the age of almost eighty. If Abram had not been willing to take over the family business and if he had not agreed to run it in order to provide an income for all his siblings, John would not have been able to attend the Royal Academy and his later life as an artist and his marriage to Maria Bicknell would not have been possible.
The painting of Abram Constable is owned by Ipswich and Colchester Museums.
Golding Constable 1774-1838
Golding was the oldest child, an unusual character, subject to fits and said to be slow to learn, although he was possibly not as disabled as some people thought. When Constable accepted commissions for religious works (destined for Brantham, Manningtree and Nayland churches), he used his older brother, Golding to model the face of Christ – the image opposite shows him in Christ Blessing the Children
Painted in 1805-6, belongs to St Michael the Archangel Church in Brantham and now on loan to Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
Golding was two years older than John and as the first-born son was expected to take over the family business – but he had other ideas. His favourite sport was shooting game, on the strength of which John persuaded the Countess of Dysart to employ him as her warden at Bentley Woods. Golding later became ‘live in’ land warden on the Dysart’s Helmingham estate when the Constable’s family home was sold on his father’s death. Later Golding (junior) bought and lived in a tumble-down cottage near East Bergholt Windmill called Pie’s Nest.
Golding had a very good relationship with his brother, John:
- Golding and John wrote intimately and articulately to each other throughout their lives and often shared jokes of a fraternal frankness that would have shocked their mother
- When John’s wife died at the age of 41 wife died It was to his brother Golding (rather than his other siblings and friends) that John turned to for solace when his wife Maria died at the early age of forty one. It was to Golding that John felt most able to pour out his heart.
“Hourly do I feel the loss of my departed angel – God only knows how my children will be brought up – nothing can supply the loss of such a devoted – sensible-industrious-religious mother – who was all affection – but I cannot trust myself on the subject – I shall never feel again as I have felt – the face of the World is totally changed for me – though with God’s help I shall endeavour to do my next duties.” (letter written by John Constable in 1838 to his brother Golding on the death of his wife Maria)
- Golding led the mourners along with his brother Abram, when John Constable died in 1837.
- Golding made bequests to all of John Constable’s children on his own death the following year (at the age of sixty four)