A rediscovered landscape by English artist John Constable sold at auction yesterday (June 19th 2019) for more than 14 times its estimate. It achieved £87,500 against a pre-sale low estimate of £6,000. A second recently discovered work, also by Constable (a portrait of Constable’s wife Maria), sold for £10,625 against a pre-sale estimate of £8,000.
The pencil drawing titled A River Landscape showing a group of tall trees on the left, a bend of the river with willows on the far bank on the right, in the background a hill with a castle, emerged from an important private collection in the UK.
After research by Chiswick Auctions art specialist Suzanne Zack and two external art experts, it was confirmed as being by the revered English artist. The castle in the picture is thought to be Framlingham Castle, as it was thirty miles north of East Bergholt, where Constable resided. He also drew the castle many times between 1800-1815.
This charming drawing was sold by Sotheby’s as part of the important sale of Dr. H.A.C Gregory’s John Constable collection in July 1949. The preface of the catalogue described the collection as: ‘The most important sale of Constable’s works that has ever taken place.’ Gregory was renowned for his discernment, only having the best works by Constable in his collection. Interestingly the paper on which it is drawn was made by Joseph Coles at Lower Wookey Mill in Somerset, which Coles ran from 1788-1833, which helps approximate the date it was drawn. It bears a watermark that was in use between 1805-1815.
The drawing sold for a staggering £87,500 in the Chiswick Auctions British & European Fine Art sale, 14 times its low pre-sale estimate of £6,000.
Conversely, another recently rediscovered Constable work in the sale was a pencil drawing of Constable’s wife, Maria Elizabeth Bicknell (1788-1828), which sold for £10,625, less than its estimate of £12,000, and an oil portrait of his uncle, Abram Constable was valued at £50,000 but did not sell.