The newly discovered painting of Emily Treslove, the artist’s neighbour, was redone to lose her double chin

A previously unknown painting by John Constable has been discovered, to the excitement of art historians. A portrait of a Regency woman in all her finery has not only been identified for the first time, but it has survived with the sitter’s diaries in which she had written about it.

In various diary entries, Emily Treslove described receiving the portrait in 1826 from Constable and sitting for him again three years later so that he could make “the likeness stronger” – the artistic equivalent of a nip and tuck. Constable slimmed down her cheek and nose and painted out her double-chin, a technical study reveals.

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