Constable painted in the open spaces of then-rural Hampstead in order to escape London's intense summer heat. This is one of about one hundred sketches he made there in 1821–22, in which he attempted to convey specific atmospheric effects. On the back of the painting he noted: "July—noon—Hampstead Heath—looking north—wind south east." Constable referred to the practice of painting these works as "skying," although he often included a strip of land to contribute a sense of scale and depth.
Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
Title:Hampstead Heath with Bathers
Artist:John Constable (British, East Bergholt 1776–1837 Hampstead)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:9 5/8 x 15 3/8 in. (24.4 x 39.1 cm)
Credit Line:Thaw Collection, Jointly Owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Morgan Library & Museum, Gift of Eugene V. Thaw, 2009
Inscription: Inscribed on back (formerly visible; presumably obscured by lining): July—noon—Hampstead Heath—looking north—wind south east
the artist's son, Charles Golding Constable (until d. 1878); J. P. Heseltine, London (by 1914–d. 1929; his estate, 1929–35; his estate sale, Sotheby's, London, May 27–29, 1935, no. 15, as "Hampstead Heath," to Agnew); [Agnew, London, 1935–36; presumably sold to Robertson]; Sir Malcolm Robertson, London (1936–d. 1951); by descent to private collection (until 1999; sale, Sotheby's, London, November 24, 1999, no. 82, presumably to Agnew); [Agnew, London, by 2000]; Eugene V. Thaw, New York (by 2002–9)
London. Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. "Agnew's Millennium Exhibition," June 8–July 21, 2000, no. 37.
New York. Pierpont Morgan Library. "The Thaw Collection: Master Drawings and Oil Sketches, Acquisitions Since 1994," September 27, 2002–January 19, 2003, no. 81.
Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. "The Romantic Prospect: Plein Air Painters, 1780–1850," June 22–August 15, 2004, no. 82.
Sydney. Art Gallery of New South Wales. "Plein-air Painting in Europe, 1780–1850," September 4–October 31, 2004, no. 82.
Melbourne. National Gallery of Victoria. "Plein-air Painting in Europe, 1780–1850," November 19, 2004–January 16, 2005, no. 82.
New York. Morgan Library & Museum. "Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection," January 23–August 30, 2009, unnum. checklist (as "Hampstead Heath with Bathers").
Drawings and Paintings by Artists of Norfolk and Suffolk in the Collection of J[ohn]. P[ostle]. H[eseltine]. London, 1914, unpaginated, no. 2, ill., as "Hampstead Heath"; records the inscription "in the painter's handwriting" formerly visible on the canvas.
Robert Hoozee. L'opera completa di Constable. Milan, 1979, p. 125, no. 380, ill., dates it about 1820–23.
Graham Reynolds. The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable. New Haven, 1984, vol. 1, p. 110, no. 22.45; vol. 2, pl. 303a, as "Hampstead Heath"; catalogues it among works dated 1822.
John E. Thornes. John Constable's Skies: A Fusion of Art and Science. Birmingham, 1999, pp. 61–64, no. 39.
Julian Agnew. Agnew's Millenium Exhibition. Exh. cat., Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. London, 2000, unpaginated, no. 37, ill. (color), based on comparison with "Hampstead Heath, with pond and bathers" (1821; private collection; Ref. Reynolds 1984, no. 21.40), suggests that the work may have been painted in 1822 or in the priro year; observes that, as many such studies are executed on paper, the canvas support suggests the possibility that this is a more "considered" work.
Cara Dufour Denison inThe Thaw Collection: Master Drawings and Oil Sketches, Acquisitions Since 1994. Exh. cat., Pierpont Morgan Library. New York, 2002, pp. 178–79, no. 81, ill. (color).
Yukitaka Kohari inPlein-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1850. Exh. cat., Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. Shizuoka, 2004, pp. 156–57, no. 82, ill. (color), states that Charles Constable gave it to Heseltine.
Asher E. Miller in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2008–2010." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 68 (Fall 2010), pp. 47–49, ill. (color).
Ann Hoenigswald. "Manipulating Paint: The Shorthand of Plein-Air Technique." Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection. Ed. Jennifer Tonkovich. New York, 2011, p. 14.
John House. "Impressionism and the Open-Air Oil Sketch." Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection. Ed. Jennifer Tonkovich. New York, 2011, p. 88.
Esther Bell. "Catalogue Raisonné of the Thaw Collection." Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection. Ed. Jennifer Tonkovich. New York, 2011, p. 110, no. 27, ill. (color), calls it "Hampstead Heath with Bathers" and dates it about 1821–22.
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can connect to the most up-to-date data and public domain images for The Met collection. Open Access data and public domain images are available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.