Lot 212
  • 212

JOHN CONSTABLE, R.A. | A Watermill

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • John Constable
  • A Watermill
  • Watercolour over pencil, heightened with bodycolour and scratching out
  • 190 by 240 mm


Mrs A.F. Macfarlane;
sale, London, Sotheby's, 1 April 1993, lot 65,
from where acquired by the late husband of the present owner


G. Reynolds, The Early Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, Yale 1996, p. 252, no. 33.57

Catalogue Note

Constable was born and brought up at East Bergholt, in a house that was built by his father, Golding Constable, who ran a prosperous corn milling business and operated Flatford Mill and Dedham Mill. The Stour valley was the most fertile area of Suffolk and the variety of its gentle hills, picturesque villages and churches and luxuriant meadows provided Constable with the raw materials for many of his greatest paintings. This rare watercolour dates to the 1830s and belongs to a group of works of this date which share the same spontaneity and distinctive use of pen and ink. Although the view has not been identified, it is easy to understand why it appealed to the artist. It is a warm summer’s day and the blue sky is populated with unthreatening clouds which, blown by a strong breeze, move at pace across the landscape. In the foreground, a dog paddles in the shallows of a river, while his master fishes nearby. Beyond, in front of the mill, a boy stands on a bridge and looks down to the bumbling white waters below.

Constable was deeply attached to scenes such as these and he noted in a letter from 1821: 'the sound of water escaping the mill dams...willows, old rotten Banks, slimy posts, & brickwork. I love such things... As long as I do paint I shall never cease to paint such places.1 

1. S. Cove, J. Gage, A. Lyles, C. Rhyne, F. Kelly, Constable, The Great Landscapes, London 2006, p. 153