Lot 185
  • 185

JOHN CONSTABLE, R.A. | Nude study

20,000 - 30,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • John Constable
  • Nude study
  • oil on paper, laid down on canvas
  • 61 x 46 cm.; 24 x 18 1/8  in.

Catalogue Note

Constable diligently attended the Life Classes at the Royal Academy from the earliest days of his admission as a student of the Life Academy in 1800. Farington recorded in his diary entry for 16 November 1807 that 'he attends the life class every evening',1 and in July the next year the young David Wilkie saw Constable at the Life Class painting a female nude.2 It is interesting to note that Constable clearly relished the study of anatomy, writing on 8 January 1802 to Dunthorne about the anatomy lectures by Joshua Brookes: ’I am so much more interested in the study than I expected, and feel my mind so generally enlarged by it, that I congratulate myself on being so fortunate to have attended these lectures. Excepting anatomy… I believe no study is really so sublime or goes to carry the mind of the Divine Architect.' It is not always easy to date these works, though a valiant attempt was made by Andrew Shirley in his pioneering article on Constable’s life studies.3 Graham Reynolds comments on a 'concentrated bout of study from the life which Constable undertook in 1808’, and the present study is likely to date from this period. The elongated figure is characteristic of other Constable studies of this date and, as with several of these, the pose seems to reflect the stance of a bargeman, which the artist had so often observed. It is likely that the model is Sam Strowger, according to Charles Leslie a Suffolk man who had worked on a farm in Constable’s neighbourhood and knew the artist well.4 Strowger had enlisted in the Life Guards and became a model at the Academy.

The Diary of Joseph Farington, K. Garlick et al. (eds), vol. VIII, New Haven 1978–84, p. 3142.
2 L. Parris et al., John Constable: Further Documents and Correspondence, London 1975 p. 314.
3 A. Shirley, 'John Constable and The Nude', Connoisseur, vol. XCI, April 1933, pp. 213–19.
4 C.R. Leslie, Memoirs of the Life of John Constable, London 1951, p. 13.