Rediscovered Constable Poetry Watercolours Up for Sale

June 29 2021

Video: Gorringe's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Gorringe's auction house in East Sussex will be offering up an interesting book in their sale today. This particular edition of Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard happens to contain three watercolours by John Constable. Constable was asked to contribute illustrations for a printed edition, commissioned it seems by editor John Martin. 

As the catalogue note explains:

All three of Constable’s original completed watercolour designs are included in this specially bound quarto volume of the second ( 1836) edition of Martin’s Elegy, together with fourteen more by other contributors. He clearly went to a great deal of care and trouble over them, making preliminary sketches in watercolour for all three , now mainly held in public collections. 5 He may have produced these as sample designs for Martin to approve. Alternatively, he may have wished them to serve as guides when working up his finished designs, thus mirroring his practice of using same scale sketches for his oil paintings.

The edition will be offered for sale today with a rather punchy estimate of £100k - £150k.

Update - The lot didn't manage to find a buyer. Although of historical interest, one imagines the high estimate might have been rather unrealistic.

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