W. G. Constable papers, 1905-1981

Constable, W. G. (William George), b. 1887 d. 1976
Curator, Art historian
Active in Boston, Mass.

Collection size: 25.4 linear feet

Collection Summary: The papers of art historian and museum curator W.G. (William George) Constable measure 25.4 linear feet and date from 1905 to 1981, with the bulk of the material from 1920 to 1976. The papers include biographical material; professional and personal correspondence; extensive lectures, writings, and notes; exhibition and book research files; printed materials; and photographs, glass plate negatives, and slides. There is substantive correspondence related to Constable's participation in the American Defense Harvard Group and about the formation of the Roberts Commission, including correspondence with Ralph Perry, Hugh Hencken, Paul Sachs, and George L. Stout. There are numerous official reports prepared by Constable after World War II for the U. S. Office of Military Government for Germany.

Biographical/Historical Note: W.G. Constable (1887-1976) was an art historian and museum curator in Boston, Massachusetts. Born in Derby, England, and studied for the bar at Cambridge University. Following World War I military service, he decided to pursue art instead of law. For three years, he attended the Slade School and the Bartlett School of Architecture. In 1923, he joined the National Gallery, becoming Assistant Director in 1929, but accepted the position of Director of the Courtauld Institute the following year. In 1938, Constable became Curator of Paintings at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts until his retirement in 1957. W. G. Constable was a distant relative of the early 19th century British painter, John Constable.

The papers of W.G. Constable were donated in multiple gifts from 1978 to 1979 and in 1987 to 1988 by his son Giles Constable. Four additional boxes of Constable's research on Canaletto were donated by researcher J.G. Links in 1985.

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

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  • Read the Finding Aid for this collection
  • Portions of this collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reels 3060-3089 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the papers as described in the finding aid does not reflect the microfilmed order. The microfilm does not represent the entire collection.
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Also in the Archives

Related Materials

The Archives also holds additional materials related to W.G. Constable, including an oral history interview with Constable conducted by Robert Brown in 1972-1973, and a photograph and clipping of Constable donated by Eleanor Barton in 1982.
Additional W. G. Constable papers also located at: St. Johns College, Cambridge, England.
Additional W. G. Constable papers also located at: Warburg Institute, London, England.
Additional W. G. Constable papers also located at: National Gallery, London, England.
Academic Assistance Committee files located at: Society for the Protection of Science and Learning, 20-21 Compton Terrace, London, England.
Photographs of works of art located at: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and British Studies Center, Yale University, New Haven, Ct.
Records relating to his tenure at MFAB located at: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.