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.
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.