Like his famous predecessor Gainsborough, Constable always preferred a portrait to a landscape. But just like Gainsborough, he quickly realized that portrait painting could become a much more reliable source of livelihood than the landscape. Until he obtained the inheritance, the artist had to work on portraits.
Most often he was ordered with waist portraits – such as, for example, “Portrait of John Fisher, Archdeacon of Berkshire” and “Portrait of Mrs. Mary Fisher, John Fisher’s Wife,” dated 1816. Sometimes Constable received orders for group portraits. One of them, “The Bridges Family”, is presented at the top.
From time to time, the artist had to copy portraits of old masters – at the request of the owners. Constable, by the way, considered this work very useful for himself, as she gave him the opportunity to carefully study the manner of the master and take something for himself.
The artist’s disdainful attitude towards the genre of the portrait was shaken after he painted a portrait of his future wife, Maria. This picture consoled him in separation from his beloved woman, and Constable wrote to her: “I never before suspected what pleasure a portrait can bring.”