Lost Constables fetch record price

THREE long lost drawings of HMS Victory sketched by Suffolk artist John Constable have sold for a world record price at a London auction.The three drawings of Nelson's flagship, recently found hanging at a home in Scotland, were expected to fetch £40,000 when they were put up for sale at Sotheby's yesterday .

THREE long lost drawings of HMS Victory sketched by Suffolk artist John Constable have sold for a world record price at a London auction.

The three drawings of Nelson's flagship, recently found hanging at a home in Scotland, were expected to fetch £40,000 when they were put up for sale at Sotheby's yesterday .

But an unidentified buyer paid a staggering £352,000 for all three pieces of work. One of the drawings was sold for £216,000, a world auction house record for a piece of work by Constable on paper. The other two fetched £95,200 and £40,800 respectively.

A Sotheby's spokesman said: “It has been quite amazing, we only expected to get around £40,000 for the sketches, but there was a lot of interest in them.”


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The sketches were found by Sotheby's representative Anthony Weld-Forester, who stumbled across them during a routine valuation at a home in Scotland.

He said: “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.”

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The sketches depict Lord Nelson's HMS Victory in 1803, two years before it led the British fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar. Constable recorded the sketches in a letter to his friend John Dunthorpe Senior, dated May 23, 1803.

In the letter he describes the ship as “the flower of the fleet”.

He did the drawings while on a sea voyage from London to Deal, in Kent. Constable 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 was caught in a storm.

In the confusion of the storm, he left behind numerous drawings, including the three sketches.

They were later recovered and subsequently used in the preparation of Constable's masterpiece His Majesty's Ship Victory…in the Memorable Battle of Trafalgar.

The family which owned the sketches does want to be identified. They are descendants of the Suffolk master.

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