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Constable drawings surface in Scotland

PUBLISHED: 05:00 25 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:20 24 February 2010

THREE long-lost drawings of HMS Victory sketched by Suffolk artist John Constable have been found in Scotland.

Sotheby's representative Anthony Weld-Forester recently stumbled across the sketches of Nelson's flagship during a routine valuation.

THREE long-lost drawings of HMS Victory sketched by Suffolk artist John Constable have been found in Scotland.

Sotheby's representative Anthony Weld-Forester recently stumbled across the sketches of Nelson's flagship during a routine valuation.

The rare and valuable drawings are now expected to sell for around £40,000 when they go up for auction next month.

Mr Weld-Forester said: "I looked at some furniture and at the end of the visit I noticed a little maritime picture. The family told me that they had another three maritime drawings.

The three drawings of the Victory were hanging in a rather dark corner of the sitting room. I was immediately convinced they were by Constable, but the family didn't think they were of significance.

"I have seen a lot of Constable work, but never one hanging on a wall during a visit. It was very exciting and quite remarkable."

The family, which owns the sketches, do not want to be identified, but it is known they are descendants of the Suffolk master.

The sketches depict Lord Nelson's HMS Victory in 1803, two years before it led the British fleets in the Battle of Trafalgar.

Constable recorded the sketches in a letter to his friend John Dunthorne Senior dated May 23, 1803, in which the painter describes the ship as "the flower of the fleet."

He did the drawings whilst on a sea voyage from London to Deal, in Kent. He hired a boat to see the Victory and other ships in the Medway. Having sketched the ship in three views, he returned to continue his voyage, but got caught in a storm.

In the confusion of the storm he left behind numerous drawings, including the sketches. They were later recovered and subsequently used in the preparation of Constable's watercolour His Majesty's Ship 'Victory'…in the Memorable Battle of the Trafalgar.

The drawings go on sale at Sotheby's in London on March 19.


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