OIL PAINTING: The White Horse, 1819
"Finding only occasional buyers for his landscapes, Constable was forced to supplement the allowance he received from his parents by undertaking portrait commissions and other 'jobs'. One of his earliest and largest efforts of this kind was the group portrait of the Bridges family, painted in 1804, while his later portraiture is represented in the Tate by paintings of Dr and Mrs Andrews. Faced with more sympathetic sitters, Constable revealed considerable potential in this field, as his portrait of Maria Bicknell shows. This was painted in 1816, a few months before they married. With a new confidence (and soon to be relieved of some of his financial worries), Constable set his sights even higher. Although 'Flatford Mill', exhibited in 1817, remained on his hands, he began the first of his six-foot canvases of river subjects, 'The White Horse', showing it at the Academy in 1819. This time his painting was, his biographer C. R. Leslie remarked, 'too large to remain unnoticed'