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John Constable, Cenotaph to the Memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds

Key facts
Full title Cenotaph to the Memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds, erected in the grounds of Coleorton Hall, Leicestershire by the late Sir George Beaumont, Bt.
Artist John Constable
Artist dates 1776 - 1837
Date made 1833-6
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 132 × 108.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Miss Isabel Constable as the gift of Maria Louisa, Isabel, and Lionel Bicknell Constable, 1888
Inventory number NG1272
Location Room 34
Collection Main Collection
Cenotaph to the Memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds
John Constable

This painting depicts a memorial to the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds, built by Sir George Beaumont in the grounds of his home at Coleorton Hall, Leicestershire, in 1812. Beaumont planned to redesign his gardens to include other memorials dedicated to his friends and the people he admired. The poet William Wordsworth spent about a month at Coleorton in the summer of 1810 composing inscriptions for the memorials.

When Constable visited Coleorton in 1823, he made a pencil drawing of the monument. Ten years later, he began to turn the pencil drawing into an oil painting, which he was to entitle Cenotaph to the Memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds. He returned to the canvas three years later, and finished it in time for the Royal Academy exhibition of 1836. It was the last painting that Constable exhibited at the Royal Academy and it did not sell.

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