John Constable R.A.
- John Constable
- Dedham Vale; View of Langham Church from the fields just East of Vale Farm, East Bergholt
- inscribed on label, verso: John Constable
- oil on millboard, set into panel, held in a decorative British Regency gilded frame
Probably bought from the artist by J.B. Chamberlin, 1830;
by descent to his stepson Pearce;
from whom purchased by Wynn Ellis;
given by him to Mr. Wright by 1876;
with Sedelmeyer, Paris (bt. by George A. Hearn in 1892);
his sale, New York, American Art Association, 25th February - 1st March 1918, lot 369 (bt. by Lorenz on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jackson, Concord, New Hampshire);
by whom given to William Martin;
by descent to his daughter Nancy Ross Martin by 1984;
from whom it was purchased by Peter H. Davidson & Co., New York;
with Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, New York:
from whom purchased by the present owner in 1987
The New York Times, 2 March 1918, p. 13, col. 3;
Paintings in the Collection of Mr and Mrs Robert Jackson, 1929, no. 33;
G. Reynolds, The Early Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, 2 vols., London 1996, cat. no. 08.58, p. 128, illus. no. 739
H. von Beat Wismer, "El Greco bis Mondrian: Bilder aus Einer Schweizer Privatsammlung," in Die Autoren, Wien und Verlag Koln und Aargauer Kunsthaus Aarau, 1996
This dramatic and atmospheric landscape is painted with the upmost immediacy and confidence. It is an important example of Constable's exploration of painting out of doors. The subject is an idyllic view of his most treasured English landscape, just a few yards from his studio - Dedham Vale looking towards Langham Church from East Bergholt, complete with wheatfields and grazing cattle. In the upper left hand corner touches of blue sky attempt to burst through the thick storm clouds which have accumulated and from which sheets of rain fall down upon the earth below. The volatility of the weather transforms the romantic landscape view into one which is also powerfully sublime.
Previously only seen by Graham Reynolds as a photograph and dated by him to c.1808 – 1810, recent scholarly discussion and preliminary paint analysis suggests that it may date from slightly later. In 1814, following a summer painting and sketching in Suffolk, Constable returned to Charlotte Street in London and wrote to his friend Dunthorne of his difficulties of finishing painting summer landscapes whilst 'it is bleak and looks as if there would be a shower of sleet' (see Beckett, Correspondence of John Constable, Vol I, 1962, p. 101). He decided that in future he would attempt to finish a small oil sketch on the spot for every landscape painting he intended to make in future. For example, it is suggested that The Stour Valley and Dedham Village, 1814 (Leeds City Art Galleries) was one such study for the Stour Valley and Dedham Village (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1815.
Constable subsequently spent the summer and autumn of 1815 at East Bergholt. Unusually he also decided to spend the winter there, and apart from short visits to London in November 1815 and January 1816, Constable remained in Suffolk from July to March. This late summer sketch, which Graham Reynolds confirms is ad vivum, might also be another such small picture painted on the spot in preparation for a more highly finished painting, now untraced. Furthermore, Sarah Cove has detected a single spot of chrome yellow in the lower right hand corner of this painting which suggests that this painting was still in Constable's studio when he was working on The Wheatfield, 1815-16 (Private Collection) at which time he began using chrome yellow.
We are grateful to Graham Reynolds and Sarah Cove for their assistance with the cataloguing of this picture.