John Constable, RA (East Bergholt 1776-1837 London)
PROVENANCE: Leggatt Brothers, London, circa 1930 Donald Glass collection, Wiltshire, circa 1930, and thence by descent to the present owners
This important, hitherto unrecorded work is of exceptional interest, being a rare dated sketch of East Bergholt that was done in the late evening of the 10 August, 1811 from the back of East Bergholt House, the home of the artist's father, Golding Constable. It depicts Golding Constable's grain store to the right of the composition. In 1802 Constable returned to his beloved East Bergholt, where he developed his outstanding 'natural painture' in a series of plein-air sketches which are unsurpassed in their brilliance and spontaneity. The period 1810-1811, when the present sketch was done, was when the artist was courting his future wife, Maria Bicknell, whose grandfather lived in the Rectory at East Bergholt. It is also the time when his sketches are considered to show a new freedom and vigour. In the summer of 1811 he had just returned to East Bergholt from Epsom, where he had seen his large-scale exhibition picture, Dedham Vale: Morning 'much approved' at the Royal Academy. The sketch can be closely compared, most particularly to View of Beaufort Cottage from Golding Constable's House (oil on canvas laid on panel, 14 x 18 cm., sale, Sotheby's, London, 13 November, 1996, lot 99). Indeed, the emergence of the present dated sketch confirms the suggestion that Beaufort Cottage was painted circa 1811. Other examples of similar sketches include: Village Street (Reynolds no. 122a, plate 96); West Lodge, East Bergholt (Reynolds no. 11.33, plate 923); and Flatford Mill (Paul Mellon Collection; Reynolds no.11.41, plate 925).