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215

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

John Constable, R.A.
VIEW OF THE CITY OF LONDON FROM SIR RICHARD STEELE'S COTTAGE, HAMPSTEAD
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215

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

John Constable, R.A.
VIEW OF THE CITY OF LONDON FROM SIR RICHARD STEELE'S COTTAGE, HAMPSTEAD
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Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Drawings

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John Constable, R.A.
EAST BERGHOLT, SUFFOLK 1776 - 1837 HAMPSTEAD
VIEW OF THE CITY OF LONDON FROM SIR RICHARD STEELE'S COTTAGE, HAMPSTEAD
Oil on paper;
bears inscription verso: M.L / Hampstead S No 929
140 by 207 mm
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Provenance

Maria Louisa Constable;
Isabel Constable;
her sale, London, Christie's, 17 June 1892, lot 250, bt. Dowdeswell;
with Dowdeswell, London, 1892-3;
sale, London, Christie's, 16 March 1984, lot 43, bt. Spink's;
with Spink's, London;
sale, London, Christie's, 28 November 2001, lot 16

Exhibited

London, Grosvenor Gallery, A Century of British Art from 1737 to 1837, 1889
London, Dowdeswell, A Collection of Paintings in Oil by Early British Masters, 1892, no. 58 

Literature

G. Reynolds, The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, New Haven and London 1984, pp. 235-6, no. 32.7

Catalogue Note

In this marvellous plein-air sketch, Constable shows the view from Haverstock Hill in Hampstead.  A heavily laden coach trundles down the Eton Road, while in the distance, the City of London is crowned by Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece, the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral. Nearer the viewer and to the right stands a picturesque cottage that once belonged to the Whig politician, writer and journalist Sir Richard Steele (1672-1729).

Constable painted this work between 1827 and 1832 as a preparatory study for two slightly larger oils on canvas. One of these works was exhibited by Constable at the Royal Academy in 1832 and is now at Yale, in the Paul Mellon Center for British Art, while the other was sold at Christie's, London on 26 November 2003 (lot 8). In 1845 the exhibited painting was engraved in mezzotint by David Lucas for a publication called 'English Landscape Scenery.'

Hampstead, positioned just to the north of London, had captivated Constable since his first encounter with the area in 1819.  During six out of the following seven years, he and his family spent time there, renting a number of different cottages in the village.  Its clean, fresh air was of particular benefit to Constable's wife, Maria, who suffered from ill health, and the artist himself was inspired by the panoramic views and impressive skies seen from it.  It was here in Hampstead that he created some of his most avant garde plein-air work.  In 1827, he acquired the lease on No. 6 Well Walk, a 'comfortable little house'1 that was to become his permanent home for the rest of his life.  Soon after he moved in, Constable wrote a letter to his great friend John Fisher, in which he proudly describes the magnificent views from the house: 'our little drawing-room commends a view unequalled in Europe - from Westminster Abbey to Gravesend - the doom [sic] of St. Paul's in the air - realises Michael Angelo's [sic] idea on seeing that of the Pantheon.2

1. L. Parris and I. Flemming-Williams, Constable, London 1991, p. 32
2. Ibid., p. 473

Old Master & British Drawings

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