John Constable, R.A. (East Bergholt 1776-1837 London)
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more Property Restituted to the Heirs of Anna and John Jaffé
John Constable, R.A. (East Bergholt 1776-1837 London)

Dedham from Langham

John Constable, R.A. (East Bergholt 1776-1837 London)
Dedham from Langham
oil on canvas, unlined
24 3/8 x 39 1/8 in. (62 x 99.3 cm.)
The artist’s sale; Foster & Sons, London, 16 May 1838 (=2nd day), lot 43, sold with another work, as ‘Two-Chain Pier at Brighton, and Deadham Church’ (5 gns. to the following).
James Stewart; his sale (†), Christie’s, London, 20 April 1839, lot 3, sold with another work, as ‘The Original Sketch of Brighton Pier, and a View from Hampstead Heath [incorrectly identified]’, when acquired by the following,
Henry Reeve, G.B. (1813-1895), Foxholes, Christchurch, by 1890.
Sir Henry Davies, Lord Mayor of London.
with Galerie Sedelmeyer, Paris, by 1902; sale, 16 May 1907, lot 23.
John (d. 1934) and Anna Jaffé (d. 1942), Villa Jaffé, Nice;
Sale ‘Collection John Jaffé’ ordered by the “Commissariat général aux questions juives”, Hôtel Savoy, Nice, 12-13 July 1943, Lot 102.
with J. Perdoux, Paris, from whom acquired by the following,
with Felix Mockers, from whom acquired by the following,
Pierre Garsonnin, from whom acquired by the following,
with Galerie Georges Moos, Geneva, from whom acquired by the following in 1946,
René Junod, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, and bequeathed by his widow, Madeleine Junod to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, in 1986.
Restituted to the heirs of Anna and John Jaffé in 2018.

Galerie Sedelmeyer, Illustrated Catalogue of the eigth [sic] series of 100 paintings by old masters of the Dutch, Flemish, Italian, French, and English schools: being a portion of the Sedelmeyer Gallery which contains about 1500 original pictures by ancient and modern artists, Paris, 1902, p. 98, no. 79.
Musée des Beaux-Arts La Chaux-de-Fonds: Collection René et Madeleine Junod, 1986, pp. 12-13, no. 2.
The Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1984-86, London, 1988, p. 32.
E.-G. Güse, ed., Die Entdeckung des Lichts: Landschaftsmalerei in Frankreich von 1830 bis 1886, Saarbrücken, 2001, p. 82.

London, Royal Academy, Exhibition of Works by Old Masters, 1890, no. 58, as 'The vale of Stour' (lent by Henry Reeve).
Paris, Galerie Sedelmeyer, 100 Paintings by Old Masters, 1902, no. 79.
Switzerland, Musée des Beaux-Arts, La Chaux-de- Fonds, Collection René et Madeleine Junod, August- October 1986.
London, Tate Britain, Constable, 13 June – 15 September 1991, no. 20.

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Lot Essay

‘I should paint my own places best – Painting is but another word for feeling’
(John Constable to John Fisher, 23 October 1821, in R.B. Beckett ed., John Constable’s Correspondence, Suffolk, 1968, VI, p. 78).

This freely executed work, which captures the panoramic view of Dedham from Langham, near to Constable’s birthplace in Suffolk, is either an unfinished painting, or more likely a compositional sketch for a picture that was never realised. It dates from the late 1820s, when Constable’s professional reputation was firmly secured by his election as a Royal Academician in 1829. Constable was based predominantly in Hampstead at this time, however, his native Suffolk, more specifically the countryside surrounding the village of East Bergholt, which has come to be known as ‘Constable Country’, continued to provide his most important and constant source of artistic inspiration.

Dedham vale is shown from near Langham church, with the 130-foot high tower of Dedham church in the centre distance and the Stour estuary beyond it. Constable was first drawn to this scene in circa 1812 to 1813, when he recorded the sweeping panorama in a series of pencil and oil sketches: pencil sketches of the subject are now in The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Copenhagen (fig. 1), Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, as well as three studies in Constable’s 1813 sketchbook (London, Victoria and Albert Museum); while small oil sketches of the view are preserved in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (fig. 2), The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and Tate Britain, London. Having exhibited Dedham Vale: Morning at the Royal Academy in 1811, Constable may have been planning a complementary panorama of the valley, seen from the Essex side, however, he does not appear to have followed up these sketches with a finished painting at that date.

The tragic death of his wife in November 1828 may have prompted him to reflect more intensely on the past and in that spirit he commissioned David Lucas to start engraving a series of mezzotints, entitled English Landscape Scenery, mainly after earlier works. He turned to his trove of pencil and oil sketches of this subject when preparing his Summer Morning mezzotint for this series and it is likely that he executed the present work as an artistic aid, working on it in tandem with the evolution of the print. In the present work, Constable introduced trees on the left (perhaps to balance those in the right middle-ground), a second cow and a milkmaid, and a plough in the foreground, he also enlarged the field of the composition, combining the breadth of the Copenhagen drawing with the height of the sky of the Victoria & Albert and Tate oil sketches. Lucas had begun the mezzotint plate by 19 February 1831 and surviving proofs show the development of the staffage from a solitary cow and boy, seen in the Victoria & Albert Museum oil sketch, to two cows and a milkmaid turned to the left, but by the time the print was issued in September 1831, the milkmaid had been turned to face right, as she appears in the present oil. The other key detail drawn from this oil for the mezzotint is the plough in the foreground, while the detail of the man leading horses down the hill was taken from the Ashmolean oil sketch. It is telling that not one of Constable’s pencil or oil sketches of this subject is the same, and that when he revisited the subject in this oil and the mezzotint he continued to experiment with the arrangement of various elements.

The outlines of the design in this oil have been drawn on a squared-up canvas and thin layers of brown, green and white paint added to broadly define forms. Constable does not appear to have begun paintings by outlining the design in this way until the 1820s. The execution can be compared with that of Constable’s sketch for Chain Pier, Brighton of circa 1826 (Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art), where thin layers of paint from a limited palette have been similarly added over drawn outlines. These two works, which are painted on a broadly similar scale, were sold together in the 1838 Studio sale and reappeared at Christie’s the following year, again offered together. They were sold separately on the death of Henry Reeve in 1895. By the early twentieth century, this work was with the dealer Charles Sedelmeyer in Paris, the city where Constable’s genius had been first recognised a century earlier.

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