Constable painting 'lost' for 44yrs turns up in terraced house - and sells for £250,000
The 1814 oil sketch, last recorded in 1979, depicts Willy Lott’s Cottage in Flatford, Suffolk and was rediscovered hanging in a dark corner of a dining room in Guernsey
A John Constable painting that was missing for 44 years before turning up in a terraced house has sold at auction for £248,000.
The 1814 oil sketch, last recorded in 1979, was rediscovered hanging in a dark corner of a dining room in Guernsey. It depicts Willy Lott’s Cottage in Flatford, Suffolk, which also features on his most famous work,The Hay Wain, painted seven years later.
His masterpiece hangs in the National Gallery in London and shows a horse-drawn wagon crossing the River Stour next to the same cottage. The oil sketch sparked an international bidding war when it went under the hammer before it was acquired by a Guernsey collector.
Expert Jonathan Voak said: “This was a remarkable rediscovery of a work whose whereabouts has been unknown for 44 years.” After its owner died, the painting was auctioned at Martel Maides, on the Channel Island, to an unnamed bidder.
John Constable (
There was applause as it fetched a hammer price of £200,000, with extra fees taking the total to £248,000 – twice the £120,000 estimate. Willy Lott was a tenant farmer and lived in the brick-built cottage at Flatford for over 80 years, spending only four nights away from the house in his entire life.
The painting was authenticated by Constable expert Anne Lyles who has traced its provenance back to the painter’s grandson, Hugh Golding Constable. He subsequently sold it to distinguished fine art dealers Leggatt Brothers and it was displayed at the end of the 19th century.
Its location was last recorded in 1979 when it appeared in a rare Italian scholarly publication listing Constable’s works. Constable did landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, on the Essex-Suffolk border, which surrounded his home. The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is now known as ‘Constable Country’, and one of Constable’s works, The Lock, which depicts rural Suffolk, sold for £22.4million at auction in London in 2012.
Mr Voak added: “The painting was found among a large number of items that came from an old terraced house in Guernsey. It was first seen by a member of our team hanging in a dark corner of the dining room. That was some years ago and at that time it was certainly not thought to be a genuine Constable.
"It subsequently came to us when the owner died as part of the deceased estate... The painting's location was last recorded in 1979 when it appeared in a rare Italian scholarly publication listing the works of John Constable. Meticulous research by Anne Lyles, acknowledged authority on the work of John Constable, has traced the provenance of the oil sketch back to the artist’s grandson, Hugh Golding Constable.
“We received the endorsement of Sarah Cove, accredited conservator of paintings and acknowledged authority on the work of John Constable. The re-emergence of this oil sketch makes an important contribution towards establishing the chronology of Constable’s oeuvre (body of work).”……
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