Constable Oil Sketch at Christie's

November 9 2021

Image of Constable Oil Sketch at Christie's

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Christie's London have shared news that they will be offering a £2m - £3m oil sketch by John Constable in their December sale. Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds is the last known version of the scene in private hands and will be auctioned for the first time in its history (although it had been with dealer Simon Dickinson in the past).

According to the article linked above:

Constable first did a pencil sketch of this view in 1811 and then made an en plein air oil sketch in 1820. As Clementine Sinclair, the head of Old Masters Evening Sale at Christie’s London, says: "The bishop [of Salisbury] commissioned a finished painting of that view on the basis of the oil sketch, and that finished painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy [of Arts in London (RA)] in 1823." It now resides in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, while the oil sketch is in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. "The bishop's daughter gets engaged and she requests a version of this painting, so Bishop Fisher commissions a second version from Constable," Sinclair says. "But Constable being Constable doesn't just do a slavish copy, he actually wants to improve on his initial exhibition painting. So he executes this sketch as a full scale compositional sketch." Two years later, Bishop Fisher commissioned a third version of the subject, the sketch for which is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the finished painting in the Frick Collection, New York.

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