Papers of William George Constable

Scope and Content

Letters to and from Constable re the College Appeal Fund, 1958-67; brochures issued by St John's College in connection with the Appeal Fund, 1958-61; letters of congratulation on his election to a Fellowship, 1918; miscellaneous papers and menu cards.

Administrative / Biographical History

Constable was born in Derby in 1887. After attending Derby School he went up to St John's, where he was McMahon law student and Whewell scholar. After Cambridge he joined the Inner Temple in London and was called to the bar in 1914. A horrific experience in 1916 while serving as an officer in the Sherwood Foresters perpetrated a long convalescence, during which he decided to give up his law career for a future in the arts.

He enrolled at the Slade School of Fine Arts, but after acknowledging his deficiencies as a painter, Constable turned to work as a critic and administrator. In 1923 he joined the National Gallery where he stayed for eight years, the last two as assistant director. In 1931 Constable moved to the newly formed Courtauld Institute of Art in the University of London, where he introduced the first British art history degree. He was also involved in the 'Art for the People' project, sending exhibitions to previously unused venues. Constable also built up an impressive body of lecturers for the institute and established a scientific department and laboratory. From 1935 to 1937 Constable was Slade professor of fine arts at Cambridge and when he resigned from the Courtauld Institute in 1937 he was offered a curatorship of painting at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He stayed in the USA for the rest of his life, working at the museum until 1957. He died in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1976.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation

Acquisition Information

Given by Prof. Giles Constable, Nov. 1978.

Note

Constable was born in Derby in 1887. After attending Derby School he went up to St John's, where he was McMahon law student and Whewell scholar. After Cambridge he joined the Inner Temple in London and was called to the bar in 1914. A horrific experience in 1916 while serving as an officer in the Sherwood Foresters perpetrated a long convalescence, during which he decided to give up his law career for a future in the arts.

He enrolled at the Slade School of Fine Arts, but after acknowledging his deficiencies as a painter, Constable turned to work as a critic and administrator. In 1923 he joined the National Gallery where he stayed for eight years, the last two as assistant director. In 1931 Constable moved to the newly formed Courtauld Institute of Art in the University of London, where he introduced the first British art history degree. He was also involved in the 'Art for the People' project, sending exhibitions to previously unused venues. Constable also built up an impressive body of lecturers for the institute and established a scientific department and laboratory. From 1935 to 1937 Constable was Slade professor of fine arts at Cambridge and when he resigned from the Courtauld Institute in 1937 he was offered a curatorship of painting at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He stayed in the USA for the rest of his life, working at the museum until 1957. He died in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1976.

Preferred citation: St John's College Library, Papers of William George Constable

Archivist's Note

12 Apr 2006

Additional Information

Published