John Constable (British, East Bergholt 1776–1837 Hampstead)
Watercolor over traces of graphite, with scratching out and a touch of pen and brown ink on the horizon, evidence of squaring for transfer in graphite, with a color wash test verso
sheet: 5 3/4 x 7 3/4 in. (14.6 x 19.7 cm)
Purchase, David T. Schiff Gift, 2007
Not on view
John Constable created resonant images of rural England. A determined "naturalist," he restricted himself to familiar scenery and refused to idealize but often used experimental techniques. This drawing, made in the 1830s, was painted freely and with intensity. A hilltop mill dominates the composition, its sails reefed in for blustery conditions. The strength of the wind is suggested by the scudding clouds and the dancing leaves on the foreground tree. To create the layout, Constable consulted sketches made at the site some fifteen years earlier. He then added somber tones in the densely worked foreground and contrasted them with thin blue washes in the sky and background. Vigorous scratching with a knife produced the sparkling highlights that suggest a burst of sunlight over forms washed by rain. Constable clearly valued this drawing, since he gave a copy to the artist Charles Robert Leslie to mark the latter's departure for America in 1833. In 1845 the composition was engraved in mezzotint by David Lucas an included in the appendix to "Various Subjects of Landscape, Characteristic of English Scenery."
By descent to Isabel Constable (British)(daughter of the artist); Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. (London), Isabel Constable sale, June 17, 1892 (1817).; Gooden & Fox, Ltd., London(old label on back of frame); Cecil B. Morgan(noted by W. Shirley, Lucas, 1930); Margaret Hand Hanlien, by descent to "a lady" (sold at the following); Sale, Sotheby's, London, November 24, 2005, lot 127; Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel, Munich
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," January 12, 2009–April 12, 2009.
Reynolds, 1984, 33.34.
Charles John Holmes Constable and His Influence on Landscape Painting. London, 1902, 222.
Andrew Shirley The Published Mezzotints of David Lucas after John Constable, R.A.: A Catalogue and Historical Account. London, 1930, 215-216.
Percy Moore Turner, Andrew Shirley Catalogue of a Centenary Memorial Exhibition of John Constable, R.A. : : his origins and influence ; illustrating the various periods of his work, also the work of his predecessors, and his influence on the art of his successors Exh. cat., April 21-May 29. Wildenstein & Co., Ltd., London, 1937, cat. no. 165, 51.
Andrew Wilton Constable's Engilsh Landscape Scenery: British Museum Prints and Drawing Series. British Museum, London, 1979, fig. no. pl. 36.
Graham Reynolds The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable. Yale University Press, 1984, cat. no. 33.34, vol. 1, p. 253.