Lot 155
  • 155

JOHN CONSTABLE, R.A. | Summer Evening with Storm Clouds

150,000 - 200,000 USD
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  • John Constable
  • Summer Evening with Storm Clouds
  • Oil on paper, laid on panel
  • 240 by 300 mm; 9 1/2  by 11 7/8  in


Charles Golding Constable (1821-1879), the artist's son,
by descent to his son, Charles Eustace Constable (1874-1899),
probably his sale Christie's, 16 April 1896, lot 52 ('Summer Evening: Stormy Sky');
The Muller Collection, Paris, by circa 1900,
thence by descent until circa 2000;
sale, London, Sotheby's, 7 June 2006, lot 190, where acquired for £338,400.


This vibrant oil sketch is well preserved. Constable's sheet is laid down onto a board. The oil has survived in good condition. There are occasional areas of surface dirt and some discolouration, particularly in the upper left hand corner and a small area along the left hand edge of the composition. There are two small scratches at the extreme right edge of the sheet. The work is well presented in a modern 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.

Catalogue Note

This dramatic oil sketch showing the strong glow of the early evening sun in summer, with threatening storm clouds in the sky, belonged to Constable's son, Charles Golding. It passed to his son, Eustace, and is almost certainly the picture which he sold in 1896, described as 'Summer Evening: Stormy Sky'. Shortly afterwards it passed into the collection of the Muller family in Paris and was untraced until it appeared at auction in London in 2006. Executed circa 1825, it shows the influence of the cloud studies which the artist painted with such enthusiasm in the summer and autumn of 1821 and 1822, while he was staying at Hampstead. Each summer from 1819 to 1826 (with the exception of 1824) Constable took his family away from the polluted air of London to rented accommodation in the country village of Hampstead, set on higher ground to the north west of the capital, beyond the city limits. Whilst he had at first made the move for his family's health, Hampstead Heath soon became a favourite sketching ground for Constable, as important to his artistic creativity as his own native Suffolk. The low horizon and the magnificent views provided the perfect stage for sketching skies, with their dramatic effects of light and the endlessly mutating cloud formations. In 1826, Constable decided to move there more permanently, taking the lease on a house at no. 6 Well Walk. Hampstead perfectly suited the artist’s needs, affording both a rural landscape for painting and the convenience of proximity to London, as he explained to his friend Fisher in a letter on 28 November that year: "I am three miles from door to door – can have a message in an hour – & I can get always away from the idle callers – and above all see nature – & unite a town & country life".1 From 1824 he was also making periodic trips to Brighton, where his wife Maria was sent on account of her ill health, and this gave him further opportunity to study the effect of changing weather on the clouds and the sky.

It was during this time in Hampstead that he first made a number of sketches of sunsets, something he had hardly done since the few such studies done at East Bergholt in 1812.  The present picture can be compared to Hampstead Heath, Looking to Harrow of 1822 (Yale Center for British Art), as well as two later studies painted on or near the coast, Hove Beach of 1824 (Yale Center for British Art) and in particular Shoreham Bay of 1828 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London).  The latter is also sketched on paper and shows a strong setting sun with elements of storm clouds in the sky.

1. R.B. Beckett, Correspondence of John Constable, Vol. VI, 1968, p. 228.