When this painting of the parish church of All Hallows, Tottenham, in north London, entered The Met’s collection in 1915, it was thought to be an early work by John Constable. However, further study of the canvas, including the costume of the woman on the path and the architecture of the church, indicated a date about 1830, when Constable was working in a more accomplished and confident manner. It has recently been suggested that the painting may have been made by one of the artist’s sons, Charles Golding Constable (1821–1879) or Lionel Bicknell Constable (1828–1887).
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Artist:British Painter (ca. 1830)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:20 1/2 x 18 1/8 in. (52.1 x 46 cm)
Credit Line:Bequest of Maria DeWitt Jesup, from the collection of her husband, Morris K. Jesup, 1914
The parish church of All Hallows, Tottenham, is shown after alterations made to the structure between 1816 and 1821, when the flint-and-rubble north wall was rebuilt in brick, as indistinctly seen here. If by Constable, the painting would have to be an early work, of about 1800; however, the presence of the brick wall and the woman’s costume, which seems to date to about 1830, are against this. The painting is not included in Graham Reynolds’s Constable oeuvre catalogues, nor apparently elsewhere in the literature of the last twenty-five years. Only Ellis Waterhouse, in 1974, called it "a perfectly good Constable." Jonathan Mayne and Robert Wark were doubtful about the attribution, which had been rejected by Malcolm Cormack, Leslie Parris, Charles Rhyne, and repeatedly by Reynolds. Rhyne summarized the position when he noted that "the general type is not unlike Constable, but [the picture] is no closer to him than to a hundred other English painters." Robert Hoozee’s acceptance of the work was probably based on a photograph (see unpublished opinions recorded in departmental files). The state of preservation is very good, the handling a little primitive.
[2012; adapted from Baetjer 2009]
[Sedelmeyer, Paris]; Morris K. Jesup, New York (until d. 1908); Mrs. Morris K. (Maria DeWitt) Jesup, New York (1908–d. 1914)
New York. American Federation of Arts. "English Portraits and Landscapes (circulating exhibition)," 1951–52.
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "European Paintings in the Jesup Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 10 (May 1915), p. 88, ill. p. 93, as "Tottenham Church, a rather early painting by John Constable".
C. H. Collins Baker. British Painting. London, 1933, p. 277, as by Constable.
Michael Robbins. Middlesex. London, 1953, fig. 1 [see Ref. Rhyne 1978], as Tottenham Church from the north, by Constable, about 1830.
Carlos Peacock. John Constable: the Man and his Work. rev. ed. London, 1971, p. 142, pl. 19, as by Constable, and probably painted about 1800–1801.
Jonathan H. Mayne. Letter to John Walsh Jr. August 6, 1974, feels uneasy about the attribution to Constable, judging from the photograph.
Graham Reynolds. Letter to John Walsh Jr. September 3, 1974, shares Mayne's uneasiness [see Ref. Mayne 1974], also judging from the photograph, observing that if by Constable, it must be an early work, while the costume instead suggests a date of about 1830.
Leslie Parris. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. March 22, 1976, agrees with Reynolds that it would have to be an early work [see Ref. Reynolds 1974], noting that Constable was near Edmonton in 1796 and almost certainly at Tottenham in 1799.
Charles S. Rhyne. Letter to Lucy Oakley. October 10, 1978, states that "the general type is not unlike Constable, but it is no closer to [his style] than to a hundred other English painters".
Robert Hoozee. L'opera completa di Constable. Milan, 1979, pp. 88–89, no. 8, ill., dates the picture about 1800, calling it one of Constable's earliest works in oil, and remarks that the hesitant execution is somewhat similar to that of his first watercolors.
Charles S. Rhyne. "Constable Drawings and Watercolors in the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon and The Yale Center for British Art: Part I. Authentic Works." Master Drawings 19 (Summer 1981), p. 139 n. 2, rejects Hoozee's attribution to Constable, noting that he must not have seen the original [see Ref. Hoozee 1979].
Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 246–47, no. 118, ill. (color).
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