The Tomb of James Gubbins, Epsom

The Tomb of James Gubbins, Epsom



John Constable, R.A. (1776-1837)
The Tomb of James Gubbins, Epsom Churchyard

Inscribed lower left: Epsom June 11.1816 and inscribed verso: `Beneath this stone are deposited/the mortal remains of/James Gubbins Esqr of Epsom/who departed this life on the/7th day of June 1814 - Aged 69. And it is/also inscribed to the memory of/his son Captn James Gubbins/of the 13th Dragoons who was killed/in the 18th of June 1815 - in the battle/of Waterloo in Flanders/Epsom 11th 1816
18 by 11.2 cm., 7 by 4 1/4 in.

The 28th Earl of Crawford (1900-1975)
By descent to the present owner

This drawing dates from a previously unrecorded trip to Epsom by Constable in June 1816, presumably to see his aunt on his mother's side Mary Gubbins. The subject of the present drawing, and the inscription on the reverse, suggests he was also there to see the newly installed tombstone for his uncle James. Constable's own parents had recently died, his mother in March 1815 and his father on 14th May 1816 and Graham Reynolds points out that the design of James Gubbins's tomb closely resembles Constable's parents' tomb in East Bergholt. The present drawing reinforces the theory that the latter was based on the former.

The size of the present drawing suggests it originates from the sketchbook used by Constable in 1815 and 1816. Graham Reynolds lists other drawings from this sketchbook which he calls 1815 (a) (see Graham Reynolds, The Early Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, 1996, no.257).

Constable made two other more finished drawings of this subject in 1822 (see Graham Reynolds, The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, 1984, nos. 22.7 and 22.8).

We are grateful to Anne Lyles for her help in cataloguing this drawing.