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    JOHN CONSTABLE (British 1776 - 1837)
    View of a Copse, circa 1809
    Oil on canvas
    24 x 19-1/2 inches
    Inscribed by a later hand in ink on a label affixed to the backing, This sketch of a copse was / painted by me on the spot in / Suffolk? in the autumn of 1809. / I gave it to my friend / Samson who ... me / with a seat in .../ John Constable R.A. / The above was written on the picture by John Constable.

    Given by the artist to Samson (possibly William Sams), London, by circa 1829-1832;
    Mr. Freshfield;
    Sir Michael Sadler (Sadleir) (1888-1957), Oxford and London, by 1952;
    Aquired by descent to his wife, Mrs. Michael Sadleir, Oxford and London;
    Sale, Christie's, London, November 18, 1960, no. 92;
    Purchased for £2000 by Tishoff (Colnaghi, London);
    Sale, Sotheby's, London, June 17, 1981, no. 73;
    Private Collection

    Robert Hoozee, L'Opera Completa di Constable (Milan, 1979), pp. 52-53, no. 670, illus.
    Graham Reynolds, The Early Paintings and Drawings of John Constable (New Haven, 1996), vol. 1, p. 136, no. 09.42; vol. 2, pl. 771, illus.

    Guildhall Art Gallery, London, "Exhibition of Paintings by John Constable, 1776-1837", July 8 - August 30, 1952, no. 12, "Copse in Suffolk", lent by Michael Sadleir.
    Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England, 1978-1980.
    Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, New York, "John Constable, R.A., 1776-1837", November 15 - December 30, 1989, no. 8, illus.

    Throughout his career, Constable regularly produced plein-air oil studies of enclosed landscape spaces such as the present View of a Copse. As direct impressions of weather effects and light on the vegetation and shape of the terrain, such sketches proved to be highly influential to later generations of landscape painters, particularly the Impressionists, who prized the freshness achieved in painting directly from life.

    Although the general impression of this painting is one of spirited brushwork and broad handling, the various species of trees, particularly the ash in the foreground, are nonetheless carefully described and differentiated. Certain loosely rendered passages in the foliage and overcast sky are punctuated at times by short quick strokes, most notably in the treetops or around the small pond at lower left, which simulate the effect of a sudden chilly breeze. The palette and handling are similar to Constable's 1808 oil study, East Bergholt, in the Fitzwilliam Museum, where the present study was on loan from 1978-1980. The composition and vertical format more closely resemble his oil sketch Parkfield Place, near Ipswich of 1809 (oil on canvas, 23.2 x 19.3 in.) which sold at Sotheby's London, 24 November 1999, lot 93.

    View of a Copse is traditionally dated to 1809 based on the handwritten label that had been affixed to the reverse of the picture. Written by a later hand probably when the canvas was relined, this old label purports to transcribe an original inscription that Constable wrote on the back of work. Graham Reynolds has noted that because the painting has greater stylistic affinities with the artist's slightly earlier landscape studies, the date of 1809 may have been mistranscribed from the original inscription (see Literature above). In fact, the work has all the hallmarks of Constable's studies from early 1808, when he began the campaign of sketching in oil directly from nature in the areas around his native East Bergholt in Suffolk. Prior to 1808 his sketches were typically more tightly controlled, and therefore quite different in handling from the present work.

    Since the handwritten label indicates that Constable originally signed himself "R.A.", an honor he had not attained until 1829, he must have inscribed the canvas sometime during the last eight years of his life, presumably when he was parting with the work. That circumstance is widely held to have coincided with his having obtained a seat in Westminster Abbey for the coronation of William IV in 1832, through the aegis of the printer and publisher, William Sams, who offered seats to the coronation in an advertisement in The Times (August 31, 1831). Reynolds has speculated that Constable gave this painting to Sams in appreciation for the seat, in which case, the name "Samson" on the label seems to be an incorrect transcription of "Sams".

    More information about JOHN CONSTABLE, also known as Constable, John, John Constable, John Constable, R. A..

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2006
    9th-10th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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