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Memoirs Of The Life Of John Constable, Esq. R.A. Composed Chiefly Of His Letters. By C.R. Leslie, R.A. - [Epigraph] -

Charles Robert Leslie RA

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: James Carpenter, Old Bond Street. -, 1843.

Physical Description

[4], 152 p., frontis. (port.), 22 pl.; 365 mm. (Quarto.)


[Frontis., t.p.] - Preface - List Of Plates; Erratum - [Text and plates]; [colophon] - [plate, 'Vignette'].

Responsibility Note

The frontispiece is signed as [painted] by C.R. Leslie R.A. and [engraved] by D. Lucas. It carries the publisher's imprint of J. Carpenter and the date (1843).

All other plates are signed as painted by John Constable and engraved by David Lucas. Each carries the publisher's imprint of Mr. Constable and the date ( 1830, 1831 or 1832).

The text printer is named on the verso of the title page and in the colophon: 'Chiswick: Printed By C. Whittingham.'


On the plates see J.C. Ivy, 'Reading mezzotints: Mr Constable's English landscape', in Journal of the Printing Historical Society, 25 (1996), p.47-68; A. Shirley, The published mezzotints of David Lucas after John Constable (1930).

On C.R. Leslie see D. Evans, Benjamin West and his American students [exhibition catalogue] (1980), p. 161-70, 177-80.

Studies of Constable's work include G. Reynolds, The early paintings and drawings of John Constable (1996); J.C. Ivy, Constable and the critics 1802-1837 (1991); L. Parris and I. Fleming-Williams, Constable [exhibition catalogue] (1991); C.S. Rhyne, John Constable: toward a complete chronology (1990); I. Fleming-Williams and L. Parris, The discovery of Constable (1984); G. Reynolds, The later paintings and drawings of John Constable (1984); J. Barrell, The dark side of the landscape (1980); J. Constable, John Constable: further documents, ed. L. Parris et al. (1975); J. Constable, John Constable's Discourses, ed. R.B. Beckett (1970); J. Constable, John Constable's correspondence, ed. R.B. Beckett (1962-8).

Summary Note

The publication-date of 1843 is given on the title page, and on the frontispiece. All other plates carry publication-dates of 1830, 1831 or 1832.

This was the first biography of Constable. Written by a friend, it toned down some of Constable's outspokenness.

The frontispiece shows a portrait of Constable by Leslie. The other twenty-two plates show landscapes by Constable. They are all reprints of the mezzotints first published by Constable in five parts between 1830 and 1832 under the title Various Subjects of Landscape, Characteristic of English Scenery (reissued in 1833 with some letterpress text). The mezzotints were made by David Lucas under Constable's constant and intimate supervision (recorded in detail in Constable's letters).


A slip of paper has been loosely inserted, inscribed in pencil, '"A life" of Constable R.A. by Mr. Leslie|" presented by the author - Council Minutes, vol. X. p 81 (13 August 1845)'. This may in fact refer to a copy of the second edition which was published in 1845. The 1864 printed catalogue records only an edition dated 1845 as present in the RA Library at that date. However, as it is not stated to be a copy of the second edition, it is conceivable that '1845' is merely a cataloguer's error for '1843'.

Binding Note

19th-century quarter black morocco, green cloth-covered boards; rebacked in 1990 retaining earlier spine-piece lettered 'Leslie's Life Of Constable'.

Name as Subject


Painters - Artists - Paintings - Landscapes (representations) - Great Britain - 18th century - 19th century
Biography - Memoirs - Art history - Great Britain - 19th century
Pictorial works - Mezzotints - Great Britain - 19th century


John Constable RA, author, source artist
Charles Robert Leslie RA, source artist, previous owner, donor
David Lucas, engraver
James Carpenter, publisher
Charles Whittingham II, printer