East Bergholt: Constable painting The Lock sells for �22million at Christie’s

AS areas of countryside made famous by John Constable face being blighted by pylons, one of his paintings sold for more than �22million last night - a world record price at auction for the artist.

The Lock, finished in 1824 which depicts countryside near East Bergholt, is the fifth in a celebrated series of six large-scale paintings of the Stour Valley that Constable exhibited between 1819 and 1825.

The painting, remarkable for its excellent state of preservation and from the collection of Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, sold at Christie’s in London for �22,441,250. It had earlier been predicted to fetch up to �25m.

The piece depicts a man operating a wooden canal lock gate in preparation for a boat to pass through, with a rural church visible in the distance.

The oil painting comes from the same series of six larger works that make up The Stour Series, and include Constable’s most famous picture, The Hay Wain, which is now housed in the National Gallery in London. The half-a-dozen paintings are said to “represent a distillation of his profound emotional and artistic response to the scenery of his native Suffolk”.

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The Lock has been sold only once since it was acquired by 19th century collector James Morrison at the Royal

Academy’s summer exhibition in the year it was completed. The Lock remained in the possession of his descendants until acquired by the current owner in 1990.

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