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Suffolk: Constable study gives new insight

12:13 20 November 2012

The Constable study for sale at Bonhams

The Constable study for sale at Bonhams

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AN important study by renowned Suffolk landscape painter John Constable has surfaced for sale after 62 years in private hands.

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The oil on paper is a precise study of figures and horse-drawn wagons on Hampstead Heath, most likely created in 1824 and estimated to sell for £60,000 – 80,000.

A Bonhams Expert has said analysis of the piece has led to an “exciting discovery”.

Constable’s study exactly matches the composition for the right-hand foreground of two seminal works of ‘Branch Hill Pond, Hampstead’, painted in 1824.

At this time Constable was at the height of his fame, having won the gold medal at the Paris Salon for The Haywain and View on the Stour near Dedham that year.

He was receiving an increasing number of commissions from Parisian dealers and English patrons and was called upon to create two almost identical paintings of ‘Branch Hill Pond’.

Bonhams analysis of the study shows a fascinating insight into the way the artist worked and how he coped with multiple commissions. The study reveals how Constable used his assistant Johnny Dunthorne to trace the figures’ outlines onto the larger canvas.

Dave Dallas, International Director of Old Master paintings at Bonhams, said: “Constable is an extraordinary painter who continues to provoke debate among specialists across the world. Scholars are still unravelling his working methods and the extent to which Dunthorne was used in the studio.

“The incised marks on the study confirm what was long suspected; that Dunthorne traced key elements by Constable for use in major works. This new insight is an exciting discovery.

“The study reputedly comes from the artist’s studio and was then passed down to one of his granddaughters. Added to this is the fact that it hasn’t been seen on the market for so long, making this a truly unusual find.”

It is likely that this study by Constable was worked up from a pencil drawing which the artist made on-site, intended to be the foreground focus of ‘Branch Hill Pond’.

The study, which is 25cm wide is replicated exactly in the bottom right-hand third of the two 75cm-wide canvases of ‘Branch Hill Pond’.

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