The Cobbold family, Ipswich; by descent until; sale, London, Christie's, 30 March 1993, lot 47; where acquired by the present owner
G. Reynolds, The Early Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, Yale, 1996, p. 75, no. 06.24
Although it was once suggested that this drawing may have been either a self-portrait or a portrait of the artist’s brother, Abram, it is now considered more likely to depict a member of the Cobbold family. John Cobbold (1746–1835) was a prosperous brewer and banker from Ipswich in Suffolk. He had a very large family, fathering fifteen children with his first wife and a further seven with his second. Surviving pencil drawings in the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris and in a small number of private collections, indicate that Constable was with the family on the 11th and 12th June 1806.1 The present work can be dated to the same period and the late Ian Fleming-Williams suggested that it may depict Robert Knipe Cobbold, John Cobbold’s eldest son from his second marriage.2
Laid down on thin japan paper that is hinged along the top edge to a modern mount. The medium presents a strong image and retains good detail, although appears slightly rubbed in some areas. There is a minor loss in the lower right corner of the sheet and some gentle mat staining around the extreme edges, not visible when framed. The weight and contrast of the medium is slightly stronger than what is visible in the printed catalogue. Sold in a simply carved painted and gilt wood frame. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.