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Undiscovered Constable paintings found in old family book

By November 29, 2020Arty, Culture, News

Previously undiscovered drawings by John Constable have been discovered in an 18th-19th century family scrapbook.

The auction house Sotheby’s said it had confirmed authenticity of “an extraordinary re-emergence” of drawings by the famous artist.

“These works have lain hidden for the best part of 200 years in an album compiled by the Mason family of Colchester,” said Mark Griffith-Jones, a Sotheby’s specialist in British watercolours and drawings. “It is full of all sorts of weird and wonderful objects and images and these four drawings.”

The newly-found collection includes a watercolour drawing of a rural landscape signed by J Constable, The piece is dated 5th April 1794 which means Constable was 17 when he drew it, 5 years before he attended the Royal Academy to study art.

“It probably is a copy after a print and it is pretty naive,” said Griffith-Jones. “He was very young. From an academic point of view it is interesting to find something of this date. Constable, quite famously, was a late developer.”

Two of the collection are portraits, one of the artist’s younger brother Abram Constable and the other his cousin Jane Anne Mason.

“In some ways they are the most exciting,” said Griffith-Jones, noting that the portrait captured Abram as a “handsome and romantic figure”.

The other portrait, of his cousin Jane Anne Mason, is now in the Government Art Collection.

“This is a particularly sensitive and really very beautiful pencil portrait study,” said Griffith-Jones. “It is a really stunning work.”

The album is being sold with an estimate of £24,000-£28,000 and will be the highlight of Sotheby’s online Old Master and British works on paper sale from 24th November to 4th December.

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