An oil on paper study by the renowned British master John Constable has re-emerged, having spent 62 years in a private collection.
The highly detailed painting, which is thought to be from 1824, features three intricately realised agricultural labourers guiding horse-drawn wagons across Hampstead Heath, all accompanied by a dog.
The study corresponds exactly with areas in two further paintings - which depict Branch Hill Pond, Hampstead - and is thought to offer insight into the ways in which Constable managed multiple commissions at the height of his fame, namely having his apprentice trace characters and features of the landscapes from smaller studies onto canvas.
Although the study is just 25cm wide, its considerable beauty, and evidence of its replication within two larger works have earned it a £80,000 ($130,000) high estimate.
Dave Dallas, Bonhams' international director of old master paintings, commented: “The study reputedly comes from the artist’s studio and was then passed down to one of his granddaughters. Added to this is the fact that it hasn’t been seen on the market for so long, making this a truly unusual find.”
Works by Constable have a strong track record of excellent auction performances. The Lock, which is considered to be one of his finest works, set a new world record for the artist this summer, when, on July 3 it sold for £22.4m ($35.2m).
A week later, Constable's crepuscular Storm Clouds over Hampstead also achieved a 104.6% increase on its high estimate, selling for an impressive £409,250 ($634,338).
If previous Constable successes at auction are to be taken as evidence of the artist's enduring popularity; the forthcoming Bonhams sale will test whether his more minor studies might also command impressive price tags.
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