CONSTABLE, James Mansell

Bust-length, facing forward, grey hair and beard. Oil on canvas, 30 x 24.1/2 ins., signed and dated upper right ‘A Muller-Ury 1902’.

The New York State Museum (2003.41.192)

New York State Chamber of Commerce, New York. Given to New York State Museum in 2003 by The Partnership of New York City Inc.

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The sitter was born August 19, 1812 in Stoningham, England, the son of James and Sophia Constable. His wife was born Henrietta Arnold (1822-February 11, 1884), and they had three children Frederick Augustus Constable, Amy Henrietta Weatherbee (Born 1858, married to Edwin Henry Weatherbee) and Harriet M. Constable. Constable came to America in 1838, joined a dry goods firm, Arnold & Co. , by 1842 he was a full partner in the firm, and in 1845 married the daughter of its founder, Aaron Arnold (1794–1876) thus forming Arnold, Constable & Co. Four of their buildings still stand, one at Broadway and 19th, one on Lady’s Mile, one at 40th Street and 5th Avenue used as a branch of the New York Public Library, and their original “Marble Palace” of 1857 at Mercer and Canal. He owned the Constable Building at 5th Avenue and 11th Street. He died in New York May 12, 1900. According to a New York Times, June 12, 1900, he owned a collection of pictures which were to be distributed evenly amongst his children.

A portrait of James Constable was exhibited by Muller-Ury at a studio tea on April 7, 1902 according to the New York Journal, April 8, 1902. It may have been first in the possession of a Mrs. Weatherbee according to an annotated photograph in the artist’s papers, and later given to the New York Chamber of Commerce. Mrs. Henrietta Constable Weatherbee was the daughter of the sitter and is documented, in Town and Country, February 10, 1906, as living at an estate called Waytes Court, at Mamaroneck, New York.

Apparently misattributed to Eastman Johnson in the Catalogue of Portraits of the New York Chamber of Commerce (1924).