John Constable

Hampstead Heath, with Harrow in the Distance

c.1820–2

Medium
Oil paint on paper on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 171 x 314 mm
frame: 199 x 342 x 37 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Miss Isabel Constable 1887
Reference
N01237

Display caption

This is one of a group of paintings given to the National Gallery in 1887 by the artist’s daughter, Isabel. Before then Constable’s sketches had not appeared in public in any quantity. They found an appreciative audience among those who had developed a taste for recent French landscape painting. By 1891 this particular work had become the most frequently copied modern painting in the National Gallery. It was transferred to the Tate in 1897.

Gallery label, July 2007

Catalogue entry

N01237 Hampstead Heath, with Harrow in the Distance Circa 1820–22


Oil on paper, laid on canvas, 6 11/16×12 5/16 (17×31.3). The old paper edging on the back bears fragments of inscriptions: ‘[? Feb 3] 1832’ top right, where the word ‘West’ can also be made out; ‘Peel Feb 18 18[?29]’ bottom right. The significance of these inscriptions is discussed below.

Prov: presented by Isabel Constable to the National Gallery 1887; transferred to the Tate Gallery 1897. Accession No. 1237.
Exh: Tate Gallery 1937 (p.16, No.27).
Lit: Holmes 1902, p.245; Shirley 1937, p.121; Chamot 1956, p.261 (accession no. given as 1236); Beckett 1961, Paintings: Middlesex B (11) No.30; Hoozee 1979, No.378.

The water at the bottom right of this study is probably Branch Hill Pond, seen from a different angle to the one used for No.19 above. The view here is roughly to the west, with Harrow appearing at the extreme right, rather than at the left as in No.19. In the early 1820s Constable made a number of oil studies of the views from West Heath looking towards Harrow (see, for example, TG 1976 Nos 194–6). The spire of Harrow church usually figures at the left or centre of these studies but in at least one other example it appears at the extreme right. Dated 12 October 1821, the sketch in question (H.314) was No.39 in Leggatt's summer exhibition in 1952 (repr. in colour in the catalogue) and is now in an American private collection. The viewpoint is very close to that of No.20.

A Hampstead oil study in the V.&A. (R.231, H.386) bears an inscription on the stretcher which is comparable to the ones on the back of No.20: ‘On paper J. Constable R.A Peel Feb 18 48. 5.’. Reynolds suggests that the figures may be the stock mark of John Peel of 17–18 Golden Square, who is listed in London directories of the 1830s and 1840s as a picture liner and restorer. The inscriptions on No.20 may also relate to work done on the picture by Peel.


Published in:
Leslie Parris, The Tate Gallery Constable Collection, London 1981

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