John Constable

Hampstead Heath, with Harrow in the Distance


Image released under

License this image

Not on display

John Constable 1776–1837
Oil paint on paper on canvas
Support: 171 × 314 mm
frame: 199 × 342 × 37 mm
Presented by Miss Isabel Constable 1887

Display caption

This is one of several oil studies Constable made in the early 1820s featuring views from Hampstead Heath towards the town of Harrow. Harrow can be seen on the extreme right. This painting was part of a group given to the nation in 1887 by the artist’s daughter, Isabel Constable. Before then, very few of Constable’s sketches had been exhibited in public. This work proved very popular and became the most frequently copied modern painting in the National Gallery at the time. It was transferred to the Tate in 1897.

Gallery label, September 2019

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

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

You might like

In the shop