Fine Works by Constable at Bonhams Old Master Paintings Sale

A number of fine paintings and sketches by John Constable (1776-1837) are included in Bonhams Old Master Paintings sale, on 3 July at its New Bond Street saleroom. Leading the sale is a plein air oil sketch, East Bergholt Common, with an estimate of £200,000-300,000.

This was a sentimental piece for Constable, as it depicts the view looking from his home towards that of his future wife, Maria Bicknell

Other Constables in the sale include:

Flatford Old Bridge and Bridge Cottage.
In October 1827, Constable took two of his children on holiday to Flatford, giving him ample opportunity to complete 27 drawings of the River Stour and surrounding scenery. This work is very closely related to another that his daughter Isabel (who sadly was uninvited on the Flatford retreat) gave to the Victoria & Albert museum in 1888. Estimate, £20,000-30,000.

The Vale of Dedham.
One of the few sketches that Constable dated in 1805, and the earliest dated study for his 1815 Royal Academy exhibit, The Stour Valley and Dedham Village. Estimate: £15,000-20,000.

Design for the frontispiece of English Landscape Scenery.
The pen and ink wash, again depicting East Bergholt House, was chosen as the frontispiece for his series of 22 landscape mezzotints, engraved by David Lucas. Estimate: £8,000-12,000.

A countryman resting on a bank, seen from behind.
A pocket-sized figure study taken from one of the small sketchbooks Constable would carry around with him, other examples of which canbe found in the Victoria & Albert and British Museums, London. Estimate: £8,000-12,000.

Fittleworth Mill, Sussex.
Dated to 1835, this late drawing is among the last studies from nature Constable was to make in any format. He drew this on a trip to Arundel in July that year, with his children John, Charles and Maria, when they were hosted by amateur artist and collector George Constable – no relation! Estimate: £10,000-15,000.

Scene on Brighton Beach.
Dated 'May 16 1828', this time spent in Brighton was uncharacteristically unhappy for Constable. It was brought on by both his wife and son's poor health, and he relocated the family to the coast in hopes of its restorative powers. Estimate: £8,000-12,000.

Osmington, Dorset, with the figure of George III at Sutton Poyntz.
Constable married Maria Bicknell in October 1816, and at the request of their friend John Fisher, who officiated the wedding, honeymooned for two months in Osmington, Dorset, at his vicarage. Fisher paints his own tempting picture in a letter to Constable, "'The country here is wonderfully wild & sublime & well worth a painter's visit. My house commands a singularly beautiful view: & you may study from my very windows. You shall [have] a plate of meat set by the side of your easel without your sitting down to dinner." Estimate: £7,000-9,000.

Bonhams Head of Old Master Paintings, Andrew McKenzie, said, "Constable is one of Britain's best loved artists, and these sketches provide a fascinating insight into his personal and family life. These studies of his travels around the country are wonderfully executed, and we expect them to achieve strong prices."


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewelry. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit


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