John Constable, David Lucas

Opening of Waterloo Bridge

published 1855

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
John Constable 1776–1837
David Lucas 1802–1881
Mezzotint on paper
Image: 136 × 221 mm
Purchased 1985

Catalogue entry

This catalogue entry discusses a group of works; details of the individual work are given at the end of the introductory text.

John Constable 1776-1837 and David Lucas 1802-1881

T04064 - T04103 'English Landscape Scenery' pub.1855

Bound volume containing text and forty mezzotints, various sizes, on wove paper, page size 426 x 290 (16 3/4 x 11 7/16)
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1985
Prov: ...; given by Mrs Peter Hammond to her husband Peter Hammond 27 July 1911 (inscription on endpaper); ...; Osbert H. Barnard, sold Sotheby's 7 March 1985 (237, together with T03983-04063) £5017 bt Christopher Mendez for Tate Gallery
Lit: as for T03983-04063 above

See the introductory text to T03983-04063 for general comments on this edition, published by H.G. Bohn in 1855 under the title English Landscape Scenery: A Series of Forty Mezzotinto Engravings on Steel, by David Lucas. From Pictures Painted by John Constable, R.A.

The titles used here are those that appear on the prints themselves, except for subjects first published in the 1830-2 English Landscape series, for which the original titles, as given on T03983-04063, have been retained. The ruled borders or framing lines (as Shirley calls them) used on the later Lucas subjects included in this edition have been ignored for the purpose of measuring the images.

T04080 Opening of Waterloo Bridge

Mezzotint 136 x 221 (5 3/8 x 8 11/16); plate-mark 175 x 246 (6 7/8 x 9 11/16)
Engraved inscriptions: '17' above image t.r., 'Painted by John.Dunstable. R.A.' below image b.l., 'Engraved by David.Lucas.' below image b.r., 'OPENING OF WATERLOO BRIDGE' | JUNE.18.1817' below image at centre; first line of title in fine open letters, second in fine italic
Lit: Shirley 1930, no.31, state II; Hill 1985, no.36

Constable exhibited his painting of 'The Opening of Waterloo Bridge' or, as he titled it, 'Whitehall Stairs, June 18th, 1817' 10 1832 after working on the idea for at least thirteen years, during which time he produced numerous preparatory drawings and oil sketches. The exhibited picture was acquired by the Tate Gallery in 1987 (Reynolds 1984, no. 31.1, pl.819 in col.; Hill 1985, pl.36 in col., incorrectly described as the Yale Center sketch [T04904]). The subject was first proposed for English Landscape in September 1829 (Beckett IV 1966, p.322) but the engraving was probably not begun until October or November 1831 (ibid., pp.354-5, 361). Lucas appears to have worked mainly from the half-size sketch now at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (Reynolds 1984, no.29.63, pl.762 in col.) but he also had access to other material: on 21 February 1832 Constable retrieved from him 'all the sketches & drawings &c &c &c which relate to the Waterloo' and which he now needed for the final painting (Beckett IV 1966, p.366). Constable was still debating whether to include the subject in English Landscape in March 1832 but finally decided against it (ibid., p.370). It was subsequently on his list for the 'Appendix' but was not prepared for publication until 1838 when it was due to appear in Moon's edition. Curiously, it was then lettered as being after a painting by 'John Dunstable', a mistake not corrected in Bohn's edition seventeen years later. The print was not included in Lucas's New Series in 1846.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.50 and 54-5

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