Love not landscape was the making of Constable . . . John Constable and Maria Bicknell might have been in love but their marriage was a most unlikely prospect. Constable was a penniless painter who would not sacrifice his art for anything, while Maria's family frowned on such a penurious union. For seven long years the couple were forced to correspond and meet clandestinely. But it was during this period of longing that Constable developed as a painter. And by the time they'd overcome all obstacles to their marriage, he was on the verge of being recognised as a genius. Martin Gayford brings alive the time of Jane Austen in telling the tremendous story of Constable's formative years, as well as this love affair's tragic conclusion which haunted the artist's final paintings.