Property from the Estate of Jasper L. Moore, Michigan, U.S.A.
John Constable, R.A. (East Bergholt 1776-1837 London)
Coleorton Hall dated 'Nov 7th/1823' (lower left) and bears number '16' (upper right) pencil on paper 17.4 x 25.1cm (6 7/8 x 9 7/8in).
PROVENANCE: Possibly Maria Constable from November 1823 C. Bostock Esq. Sale, Sotheby's, London, 26 June 1946, lot 71 (as part of an album) With Agnew's, London
EXHIBITED: Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin, Constable: Symposium and Exhibition Commemorating the 200 Year Anniversary of the Birth of John Constable, April 1976, cat. no. 3
LITERATURE: G. Reynolds, The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable (London, 1984), p. 125, cat. no. 23.28, pl. 416
Coleorton Hall, Leicestershire was the seat of Sir George Howland Beaumont Bt. (1753-1827), collector, patron, painter and founder of the National Gallery. The house was designed by George Dance the Younger (1741-1825) in a severe gothic style, but oriented with great care and with large windows to frame and take in the prospect at the insistence of Sir Uvedale Price (1747-1829).
Constable's view is taken from the South, with the avenue leading to the Reynolds cenotaph at the artist's back, the terrace retaining wall to the left and the Winter Garden designed by Dorothy and William Wordsworth just out of view to the left of St. Mary's church, which is visible in the left distance, behind the fine stand of elm trees. It has been a mild, if rainy autumn and the trees are still in full leaf.
Constable had been staying at Coleorton since late October 1823 and was suffering a bout of ill health due to being cooped up indoors copying Sir George's Claudes, his twenty cloud studies by Alexander Cozens, who had been his drawing master at Eton and landscapes by Sir George, himself. Their daily routine would be to repair to Sir George's painting room after breakfast and paint together and go riding in the afternoon, if the weather allowed.
In early November Constable decided to extend his stay at Coleorton as he had heard that Robert Southey, the Poet Laureate and his wife and daughter were coming to spend a few days in Leicestershire on their way back from the Lakes. He had met Southey with Sir George in 1806, when they were staying with John Harden (1772- 1847) at Brathay Hall on the shores of Lake Windermere.
He wrote to his wife, Maria, on 18 November 1823: ' I sent you a hasty shabby line by Southey but all that morning I had been engaged on a little sketch in Miss Southey's album of his (Beaumont's) house which pleased all parties here very much.' Edith Southey's album is preserved intact in the Central Library, Bristol with Constable's watercolour still in it. The beautiful pencil sketch owned by the late Jasper Moore is the starting point for this watercolour and in many ways is the more powerful of the two views of the house.
Writing again on the 26 November shortly before leaving Coleorton Constable refers to having hardly been out of the house and regrets that he had 'only made you one little sketch of the house, which is all I have done from nature.' If the sketch from nature was a drawing then this lot has a strong claim to be that 'one little sketch.'