IT was, perhaps, a telling sign of the current shortage of high-quality, market-fresh Old Master paintings in the salerooms that Bonhams (19.5/10% buyer’s premium) July 7 Old Master Paintings sale should be headed by this hitherto unrecorded John Constable (1776-1837) plein air oil on canvas sketch, right, of the artist’s home village, East Bergholt.
Entered from a deceased's estate, this small 5 x 7 3/4in (13 x
19.5cm) sketch (now laid down on panel) was a relatively early
work, signed and dated 1811, placing it in the period when
Constable was courting his future wife, Maria Bicknell.
The Constable market has not been as lively as it was five or 10
years ago, but the discovery of a new, completely unrecorded, work
is always an event and three bidders on the phones were prepared to
push the bidding up to a winning £170,000 against an estimate of
On a day when bidding tended to be reserved only for lots that
were market fresh and had decorative appeal, the highest bid on a
pre-1800 painting at this Bonhams sale was the £72,000 (estimate
£7000-10,000) given for an eye-catching 3ft 3in x 3ft 1/2in (98 x
92cm) canvas of travellers on a forest track in a storm, catalogued
as being from the Circle of Marco Ricci (1646-1729).
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