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John Constable, R.A. (East Bergholt, Suffolk 1776-1837 Hampstead)
The Property of a Private Collector (lots 30, 31, 46, 48 & 50)
John Constable, R.A. (East Bergholt, Suffolk 1776-1837 Hampstead)

Scene on the Downs, near Brighton

John Constable, R.A. (East Bergholt, Suffolk 1776-1837 Hampstead)
Scene on the Downs, near Brighton
with inscription 'J.Constable RA' (on the reverse)
oil on light card
4½ x 6¼ in. (11.5 x 15.9 cm.)
Isabel Constable, the artist's daughter.
E.A. Colquhoun; Christie's, London, 28 May 1891, probably lot 146.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 18 March 1981, lot 68 (acquired by the following)
with Spink, London, from whom bought by the present owner.
G. Reynolds, The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, New Haven and London, 1984, p. 149, no.24.77, and pl. 548.
London, Grosvenor Gallery, A Century of British Art (Second Series) from 1737-1837, 1889, said to be 236.

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Clemency Henty
Clemency Henty

Lot Essay

This exquisite study belongs to a small group of works Constable painted of the downs above Brighton, to where, in May 1824, he had temporarily moved his family for the benefit of his wife Maria's health. Constable himself was in the seaside town for much of the summer of that year, and when Maria was again in Brighton from the end of August 1825 to January 1826, and in June and July 1828, Constable joined her whenever he could.

While the coast clearly provided great inspiration for the artist, one can imagine his delight in escaping the bustling town to explore the beautiful South Downs. Here, away from the crowds and the noise, he could capture nature in one of the grandest landscapes in Southern England. In the present work, the immediacy of the scene is emphasised by the pin holes in the paper, where it would have been held to the easel on which he painted, evident in the upper left and right hand corners. Clouds billow up over the hills, racing across the sky, the immensity of which is emphased by the tiny and jewel-like shepherd and his flock at the very foot of the composition.

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