landscape sketchA rediscovered landscape by the greatest English landscape painter, John Constable sold for more than 10 times in Chiswick Auctions British and European Fine Art sale

The pencil drawing titled A River Landscape: A group of tall trees on the left, a bend of the river with willows on the far bank on the right, in the background a hill with a castle, emerged from an important private collection in the UK.

After research by Chiswick Auctions art specialist Suzanne Zack and two external art experts, it was confirmed as being by the revered English artist. The castle in the picture is thought to be Framlingham Castle, as it was thirty miles north of East Bergholt, where Constable resided.

This charming drawing was sold by Sotheby’s as part of the important sale of Dr H.A.C Gregory’s John Constable collection in July 1949. The preface of the catalogue described the collection as “The most important sale of Constable’s works that has ever taken place.”

Gregory was renowned for his discernment, only having the best works by Constable in his collection. Interestingly the paper on which it is drawn was made by Joseph Coles at Lower Wookey Mill in Somerset, which Coles ran from 1788-1833, which helps approximate the date it was drawn. It bears a watermark that was in use between 1805 and 1815.

Another rediscovered Constable work in the sale was a pencil drawing of Constable’s wife, Maria Elizabeth Bicknell (1788-1828). The sensitive encapsulation of the love of his life evokes Constable’s sentiment towards her, which lasted until her untimely death of Tuberculosis in 1828.

Constable preferred to do portraits of his friends and family, rather than commissions for strangers and when he painted their portrait, he put a great deal of significance and feeling into the character of the sitter. This comes through very much in his most intimate portraits where the relationship between artist and sitter can be felt. He produced over 100 portraits in his lifetime.

The drawing is from the private collection of the family of art historian Ronald Brymer Beckett (1891-1970) and comes directly from them, by descent. Beckett pursued his interest in art for many years, collecting drawings by English artists. In 1956 he was instrumental in mounting and curating the exhibition John Constable 1776-1837, held at Manchester City Art Gallery. He loaned works from his own collection and researched and wrote the catalogue.