February 2019 meeting

Sudbury History Society

A Talk by Richard Humphreys on 13th February 2019


“The Leaping Horse” by Constable

Richard Humphreys, art historian, curator and writer has recently published a book on Constable’s painting “The Leaping Horse”.  At today’s talk, he gave us a fascinating insight into Constable’s life and times and painting methods.

He told us about Constable’s life: he was a deeply religious, serious man and conservative in his views.  He used to pray for inspiration in front of his canvases.  He saw nature in a spiritual way.  Churches often feature in his pictures and he even painted some religious altarpieces.  At the time, pictures of landscapes were not so accepted as the art world was dominated by portrait painting and Constable struggled to find his niche.  He was encouraged to persevere and follow in the classical tradition of landscape painting (Claude Lorraine).  It took many years for him to be accepted as a full member of the Royal Academy. Constable made a big impact in France.  He was a big hit with French dealers and was given a Gold Medal at the Paris Salon.   Every year between 1819 and 1825, Constable submitted a large canvas, a so-called “six-footer”, to the Royal Academy for their annual exhibition.

Constable’s paintings were works of the imagination.  He often reworked his canvases to achieve the nostalgic effect he wanted.  Richard Humphreys’ talk was fascinating and has enabled us to look at Constable’s paintings in a new light.

The painting, and more information, can be seen at


January 2019 meeting

Henry Crossman, 1711-1792

Barry gave us a talk about this clergyman who was born in Sudbury and spent much of his life in the area. He was a contemporary of the painter Thomas Gainsborough and Barry wondered whether they knew each other.

From 1760 Henry and his wife lived in the house called St Mary’s in Stour Street. He made many changes to the house.

In 1767 he purchased land in Market Hill, Sudbury, and had a house built for his daughter, who married in 1768. It was the first house in the town to be built entirely of brick. It is now Lloyds Bank.

Two special Gainsborough Exhibitions

At Gainborough’s House, Sudbury:

Early Gainsborough: ‘From the Obscurity of a Country Town’

October 20, 2018February 17, 2019.

This exhibition focusses on the early life and art of Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88).

Read more.

At the National Portrait Gellery in London:

Gainsborough’s Family Album

22 November 2018 – 3 February 2019.

Thomas Gainsborough was the first British artist to make a regular practice of painting and drawing himself and his family members. Comprising some of his best loved works, this exhibition explores how these portraits not only expressed his affections but also helped advance his career. Read more.


Trip to Norwich 22 November 2018

Sudbury History Society has arranged a coach outing to Norwich on Thursday 22 November, leaving Sudbury Bus Station at 9am. The cost is £14.

At Norwich, it is “do your own thing”.  There are two cathedrals, the castle, numerous shops and much else to see. Visit www.visitnorwich.co.uk .

Seats must be booked and paid for in advance, via Barry Wall, 01787 227029, 1 Clees Hall Cottages, Alphamstone, Nr. Sudbury, CO8 5DZ .