Published 14th July 2015
The impeccable provenance, scholarly research and specialist authentication will be made available on our website well in advance of the sale. For all future enquiries about this painting, please refer to the Picture Department.
John Constable was known as the Sketcher; as a young boy he enjoyed sketching the countryside of Essex and Suffolk saying in later life "these scenes of the countryside made me the painter that I am".
John Constable was as the youngest son of Golding and Anne Constable was, by the tradition of the time, destined to become a clergyman. However, due to the ill health of his older brother he was put in charge of the family corn merchant business, working closely with his father. On a business trip to London, Constable met with a famous drawing master of the time, one John 'Antiquity' Smith (don't ask!). It was Smith who persuaded Golding Constable that John "could and would become one of the greatest painters of his time". Now, with his father's blessing, and relieved of his family business duties, he embarked with relish on his career as a painter.
In 1803, Contable met and fell in love with his future wife, Maria Bicknell. Her parents thought him financially insecure and refused to give approval to their courtship. They did however manage to meet in secret, in fact for over thirteen years! It was not until John Constable inherited his father's estate, thus satisfying Maria's parents of his financial security, that they were able to at last tie the knot. They subsequently had seven children.
Although John Constable never went abroad he was, in the early years of his painting career, more popular in France than in England. He was awarded the high accolade Medal Charles X of France in 1824.
Throughout his life, John Constable was outshone by his contemporary JMW Turner. This situation was given air in the recent film on Turner's life 'Mr Turner'. John Constable's work was only fully appreciated after his death.
His most famous painting is The Hay Wain. It depicts a harvest wagon crossing a shallow stream close to Flatford Mill and the hay wagon is in fact a timber wagon! Constable did not sketch the scene 'on the spot', he constructed the scene from his studio having asked a painting friend to send him a sketch of a hay wagon. His friend mistakenly sent a sketch of a timber wagon - not many people know that! John Cosntable's own favourite painting was Branch Hill Pond in Hampstead, now hanging in the Cleveland Museum of Art.