Lot 135
  • 135

Constable, John

Estimate
5,000 - 7,000 GBP
Sold
13,750 GBP
bidding is closed

Description

  • John Constable
  • Autograph letter signed ("John Constable"), to Henry Hebbert Esq.
  • Paper
Concerning a commission for a pair of paintings ("these most unfortunate of all my pictures") with which the latter was not satisfied, expressing his regret that they did not please Hebbert and explaining that he will refund his £50 advance, 4 pages, 4to, 19 November 1828, autograph address panel, stamped and franked with traces of black seal, worn and stained along fold with some perforation, slightly affecting the text, seal tear on left edge

Loose in red folder with associated correspondence and copies, including a typed letter, signed, from the art historian Herbert Read, 1 page, 4to, Beaconsfield, 24 June 1942

Provenance

Sotheby’s, London, 20 May 1951, lot 240, to Charles J. Sawyer, Ltd.

Literature

John Constable's Correspondence, VI, pp.100-101

Catalogue Note

"...I had hoped in justice to my own exertions that you might have met my own ideas - have forgot the past - and looked only to the present value & merit of the paintings..."

A LETTER RESPONDING IN GENTLEMANLY TERMS TO A BUYER'S DISSATISFACTION WITH EXAMPLES OF CONSTABLE'S DEPICTIONS OF HAMPSTEAD HEATH, NOW WIDELY RECOGNISED AS AMONGST THE GREATEST OF ENGLISH LANDSCAPES.

This letter concluded a lengthy dispute between Constable and Henry Hebbert, a trader in textiles operating from offices on the Strand, that had begun in April 1825 with a misunderstanding over the purchase of a pair of landscapes on exhibition at the Royal Academy. Hebbert paid a deposit to the artist, but only a few months later wrote to advise that he would relinquish these to another buyer as he no longer was placed to fulfil the total cost. 

Having seen those pictures subsequently sold to one Francis Darby of Shropshire, Hebbert changed his mind once again and Constable records in his diary that the merchant "seemed vexed to have lost his pictures – & rather blamed me" (2 September 1825). The situation was settled on the agreement that Hebbert would instead accept a new picture in place of the pair he had missed, which eventually was delivered in 1828. However this was not the end of the matter, as documented here. Constable, in midst of despair at the worsening of his wife's illness (she was to die only four days after the date of this letter), seeks to wash his hands of the commission entirely. Whilst he thanks Hebbert for his "most gentlemanlike manner" throughout, he writes, "...I can only say that I have never from the first to the last ceased to regret for both our sakes that I was engaged on those pictures".

Close