Misattributed John Constable Purchased for £3,500 At Christie’s Sells At Sotheby’s For £3.4m

Misattributed John Constable

We reported on the 9 January that a painting by John Constable misattributed and sold for a fraction of its actual value at Christie’s was up for sale again at Sotheby’s New York. Now it has been confirmed that the picture, bought for £3,500 just 18 months ago has sold at auction in New York for around £3.4m ($5m) The oil painting was attributed as the work of a “follower” of the  artist until an expert clean and inspection by Tate Britain’s Anne Lyles gave it the seal of approval as an original “lost Constable”.

She said the work was a preliminary sketch for Constable’s “masterpiece”, Salisbury Cathedral from The Meadows. ‘Exciting and important’ In July 2013 an unidentified buyer acquired the 18ins by 24ins (46cm by 61cm) painting at Christie’s in London for £3,500. Constable was born in East Bergholt, Suffolk in 1776 The purchaser suspected the painting might have been doctored and that was confirmed by Ms Lyles, a leading authority on Constable’s work after some added brushstrokes were removed. “This oil sketch is one of five preliminary oil sketches which Constable made for Salisbury Cathedral From The Meadows, which is perhaps the greatest of his late masterpieces,” she said. Ms Lyles said the work was “hitherto completely unknown to scholars”. “It is one of the most exciting and important additions… to have emerged in recent decades,” she added.

Lady Hambleden, 83, who consigned the Constable painting to Christie’s may now have a case for compensation as specialists apparently failed to spot that the painting of Salisbury Cathedral was an original, instead listing it as being done by “a follower of Constable”.

The artwork is believed to have been included in the private collection of William Henry Smith, the founder of the UK stationery chain. The collection, including a Constable work  sold in the Christie’s auction for 1.17 million pounds back in 2013.

John Constable John Constable (11 June 1776 – 31 March 1837) was an English Romantic painter. Born in Suffolk, he is known principally for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home – now known as “Constable Country”- which he invested with an intensity of affection. “I should paint my own places best”, he wrote to his friend John Fisher in 1821, “painting is but another word for feeling”.

His most famous paintings include Dedham Vale of 1802 and The Hay Wain of 1821. Although his paintings are now among the most popular and valuable  in British art, he was never financially successful and did not become a member of the establishment until he was elected to the Royal Academy at the age of 52. He sold more paintings in France than in his native England.

Image Courtesy: Sothebys’s all rights reserved


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