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This informal portrait by Constable is of Jane Mason (born c.1792) the daughter of a solicitor from Colchester, Essex. Her mother, Anne, was Constable's first cousin. On 19 June 1808, Constable's brother, Abram, wrote to him with the following news: 'the Masons are coming to Town on Tuesday, they reckon upon seeing you ... Jane is to be with them, you will think her grown.' This portrait was probably painted during that visit, when Jane was about 16 years old.
At about the age of her mother in this portrait, the eldest of the children (also named Jane Inglis) was encouraged by Constable in her enthusiasm for painting. In 1833, the painter lent her a landscape by Claude Lorrain (c.1600–1682), with instructions to copy the work. Returning the Claude painting in 1834, Jane senior, wrote to Constable on her daughter's behalf: 'I cannot find words to thank you ... we shall rejoice to see you if you come into Suffolk.'
This painting passed by descent through the family, until it was sold at Christies in 1994 and purchased by the Government Art Collection.
oil on canvas
H 77 x W 64.3 cm
purchased from Christie's, 1994