Lionel Bicknell Constable

Near Stoke-by-Nayland


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Lionel Bicknell Constable 1828–1887
Graphite on paper
Support: 117 × 175 mm
Purchased 1970

Catalogue entry

T01258 ‘Near Stoke-by-Nayland’ Circa 1850

Pencil, 4 1/2×6 3/8 (11.6×17.4).

Prov: one of a group of works sold by Ella Constable (Mrs Mackinnon) through Leggatt's in the 1890s to Sir Henry Newson-Smith, Bart.;1 his son, Sir Frank Newson-Smith, Bart., sold Christie's 26 January 1951 (14, with two others: No.51 above and ‘Portland Harbour’), bt. R.B.Beckett; purchased by the Tate Gallery from Mrs Norah Beckett 1970. Accession No. T01258.
Exh: Tate Gallery 1971 (94).
Lit: Beckett 1961, Drawings: Unidentified (16) No.70; Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, ‘Which Constable?’, The Burlington Magazine, CXX, 1978, pp.566–79.

Verso: sketch of a tree

As with No.53, the attribution of this drawing was changed in 1978 following the publication of the article in the The Burlington Magazine cited above. Although the influence of John Constable's mature drawing style is very evident, the pencil work here is hesitant and it lacks those tonal nuances by which John was able to suggest form and colour. Comparable drawings made by Lionel Constable in 1847 (Fig. 1)2 and probably in 1849 (Fig.2)3 are reproduced here.

No.54 does not appear to have been used in any direct way for the painting of the Munich and Tate Gallery versions of ‘Near Stoke-by-Nayland’ (No.53) but it clearly depicts the same site. If the drawing is accepted as Lionel's work, it adds weight to the attribution to him of the paintings since the trees in the latter are shown in much the same state of growth as in the drawing. Had the paintings been by John Constable, they would have been made many years earlier and the trees would have appeared correspondingly less mature. At the same time, No.54 is not sufficiently close to the two paintings for it to be regarded as a copy by Lionel of a composition by his father.

1. The Ella Constable/Newson-Smith transaction is recorded in the R.B.Beckett Papers (Tate Gallery Archive). Leggatt Brothers' own records of the period do not survive but Mr Hugh Leggatt confirmed to the compiler in 1977 that such a sale did take place.

2. Coll. Mrs E. Constable. Pencil, 4 9/16×5 1/2 (11.1×13). Inscribed ‘Oct 13th 47 evening’ and on the back, in a later hand, ‘Lionel’.

3. Page 18 of a dismembered sketchbook, No.670, in the Kupferstichkabinett of the Staatliche Museen, Berlin. Pencil, 3 1/4×4 1/2 (8.7×12.4). Inscribed ‘May 21t afternoon’. For the attribution and dating of this sketchbook, see Parris and Fleming-Williams, op. cit., 1978, and Charles Rhyne, ‘Lionel Constable's East Berlin sketchbook’, ART news, Vol.77, No.9, November 1978, pp.92–5.

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

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