John Constable

A Lane near Flatford


Not on display

John Constable 1776–1837
Oil paint on paper on canvas
Support: 203 × 305 mm
frame: 375 × 475 × 63 mm
Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan 1900

Display caption

Constable probably made this vigorous sketch on Fen Lane, which leads down from East Bergholt to Dedham Vale. With its animated brushwork, suggesting the movement of scudding clouds and of trees bristling in the wind, he successfully conveys the impression of a breezy summer's day.

Gallery label, February 2004

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Catalogue entry

N01821 A Lane near Flatford (?) Circa 1810–11

Oil on paper laid on canvas, 8×11 15/16 (20.3×30.3).

Prov: ...; Henry Vaughan, probably by 1875 when etched by Chattock;1 bequeathed by Vaughan to the National Gallery 1900; transferred to the Tate Gallery 1951. Accession No. 1821.
Exh: La peinture romantique anglaise et les préraphaélites, Petit Palais, Paris 1972(46).
Engr: etched by R.S. Chattock as ‘Sketch’ and published in The Portfolio, 1875, facing p.172.
Lit: Holmes 1902, p.247; Shirley 1937, p.206; Davies 1946, p.32; Chamot 1956, p.260; Beckett 1961, Paintings: Suffolk B(14) No.42; Smart and Brooks 1976, pp.107–8; Hoozee 1979, No.144.

The figure of the drinking boy at the left of this sketch appears again in ‘The Cornfield’ of 1826 (Fig. 1, National Gallery No.130, TG 1976 No.242, H. 467).2 The latter was based on the view towards the Stour from Fen Lane, a track which runs down to the river from the Bergholt-Flatford road.3 No.10 may have been made further down the lane, where the terrain is more level and not dissimilar to that depicted, but the sketch offers few real clues to a precise identification of the site.

The agitated brushwork of the trees at the right is comparable to the handling in some of Constable's Flatford lock sketches of 1810–11: see, for example, the sketch formerly in Lord Binning's collection and now in the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California (TG 1976 No.95, H. 112).

1. Etchings by Chattock of two works by Constable appeared in the 1875 Portfolio. The other one was taken from No.9 above, which Vaughan acquired in 1874. Although it may be only coincidence that No.10 also ended up in Vaughan's collection, it seems likely that he already owned it by 1875 and that Chattock took his two examples from the same collection.

2. Oil on canvas, 56 1/4×48 (143×122).

3. See Smart and Brooks 1976, pl. 111 for a recent photograph of Fen Lane.

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

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