Lot 372
  • 372

John Constable R.A.

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • John Constable
  • View of a copse
  • oil on canvas


Mr Samson (possibly William Sams) given by the artist;
Mr Freshfield;
Anonymous sale, Christie's London, 18 November 1960, lot 92;
with Colnaghi's;
Sir Michael Sadler;
Mrs Michael Sadler's sale, Sotheby's London, 17 June 1981, lot 73;
Joseph P. Carroll 


London, Guildhall Art Gallery, John Constable Exhibition, 1952, no. 12;
Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, on loan from 1978 until 1980 (lent by Joseph P. Carroll)


R. Hoozee, L'Opera completa di Constable, Milan 1979, no. 670, p. 152-3;
G. Reynolds, The Early Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, London 1996, text vol., p. 136, no. 09.42, pl. 771

Catalogue Note

This lively and spontaneous oil sketch shows an ash tree in the foreground (a favourite tree of Constable) and carefully delineates the other trees in the copse. Studies of a group of trees in an enclosed space such as this recur throughout Constable's career from the early drawing Study of ash and other trees, c. 1800, to A Stone dedicated to Richard Wilson at Coleorton, of 1823, and the finished oil Trees at Hampstead: the Path to Church of 1821(see G. Reynolds, Catalogue of the Constable Collection, London 1973, nos. 57, 260 and 223 respectively).

The foliage in the sketch is painted with clusters of broad brush strokes, a technique which Constable used in other sketches such as Porch of East Bergholt Church, Barges on the Stour with Dedham Church in the distance (G. Reynolds, lit.op.cit., 1973, no's. 99 and 104), and View on the Stour (Tate Gallery Exhibition, 1976, no. 92).

An inscription previously written in ink on paper fixed to the backing of this painting, professedly copying an inscription by the artist reads: This sketch of a copse was / painted by me on the spot in/ Suffolk [?] in the autumn of 1809./ I gace it to my friend/ Samson who .. me/ with a seat in.../John Constable RA./ The above was written on the picture by John Constable. It appears to have been removed when the canvas was relined following the 1981 Sotheby's sale. This inscription would date the work to 1809, which is consistent with Constable's other work of that date. The donee, Mr. Samson, is untraced but as the artist signed himself R.A., the gift must be after 1828 and it has been suggested that the 'seat' could have been that for William IV's Coronation in 1831. Therefore, the donee's name is possibly a misreading for Sams, and he may be the printer and publisher William Sams who is known from an advertisement in the Times of August 31st 1831 to have offered seats in the Abbey for the Coronation.