‘Exciting’ rediscovered Constable painting could fetch £3m at Sotheby’s

A recently rediscovered landscape ('Dedham Vale with the River Stour in Flood', from the grounds of

A recently rediscovered landscape ('Dedham Vale with the River Stour in Flood', from the grounds of Old Hall, East Bergholt, circa 1814-1816) by Suffolk painter John Constable (1776�1837) could fetch up to �3 million when it is auctioned at Sotheby's on Wednesday, December 6. Picture: SOTHEBY'S - Credit: Archant

A rediscovered Constable landscape described as “one of the most exciting and important additions” to the Suffolk painter’s body of work to have emerged in the last 50 years could fetch up to £3 million at auction on Wednesday (December 6).

Painted between 1814 and 1817, ‘Dedham Vale with the River Stour in Flood’ belongs to a small group of Constable’s early Suffolk paintings remaining in private hands.

The work, painted from the grounds of Old Hall in East Bergholt, will be offered in Sotheby’s Old Masters Evening sale tomorrow, with an estimate of £2-3m.

Julian Gascoigne, senior specialist, British Paintings at Sotheby’s, said: “It is without question one of the most exciting and important additions to Constable’s oeuvre to have emerged in the last fifty years.

“Constable’s views of Dedham Vale and the Stour valley have become icons of British art and define for many everything that is quintessential about the English countryside. ‘Dedham Vale with the River Stour in Flood’ was long mistakenly thought to be by Ramsay Richard Reinagle (1775-1862), a friend and contemporary of Constable’s.

Dedham Vale with the River Stour in Flood by Suffolk painter John Constable. Picture: SOTHEBY'S

Dedham Vale with the River Stour in Flood by Suffolk painter John Constable. Picture: SOTHEBY'S - Credit: Archant


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“But recent scientific analysis and up-to-date connoisseurship has unanimously returned the work to its rightful place among the canon of the great master’s work and established beyond doubt its true authorship.”

The rare masterpiece depicts the area of the Stour Valley around Dedham Vale, on the Suffolk/Essex border between Suffolk and Essex where Constable spent his boyhood years and which has become synonymous with the great painter.

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The painting is thought to have been commissioned by Thomas Fitzhugh as a wedding present for his future wife, Philadelphia Godfrey, the daughter of Peter Godfrey who lived at Old Hall, East Bergholt and was a near neighbour and friend of the artist’s family. The view is taken from the bottom of her parent’s garden, looking out over the valley with the river in flood, a symbol of fecundity, and was intended as a memento of her childhood home for her new married life in London.

The works belongs to a group of paintings similar in size and style that Constable painted between 1814 and 1817, all of which are views of the Stour Valley and the area surrounding East Bergholt.

Self-portrait by John Constable, circa 1799-1804. Picture: NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

Self-portrait by John Constable, circa 1799-1804. Picture: NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY - Credit: National Portrait Gallery

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