Constable: Discovered

09 March 2018


Roseberys London are delighted to offer a previously unpublished oil on board by the popular British landscape artist, John Constable RA, in their Pictures 1500-1900 sale. The maiden sale is to be held in the London showrooms on Wednesday 21 March from 10am.

Lot 148 by John Constable RA, British 1776-1837- View towards the back of a terrace of houses, with elder tree. c.1821-2; oil on board, inscribed verso in ink, in another hand, ‘J.C’., 18x14cm

Provenance with the John Hay Whitney and Cushing Roosevelt Whitney (Wentworth Estate)

“This attractive oil study, hitherto unpublished, relates closely to a number of similar sketches which Constable made in Hampstead in the period c. 1821-2.


Constable first took lodgings in Hampstead in the summer of 1819, then a village about five miles to the north of London, for the benefit of his wife’s health and that of his young family.

For two consecutive summers in 1821 and 1822, he rented a house at 2, Lower Terrace, which was close to the western edge of the Heath, and it seems most likely that it was around this time that he painted View towards the back of a Terrace of Houses.

It is particularly notable that this study is painted in oils on board. Constable first started using millboard as a support when engaged in a campaign of outdoor oil sketching in Suffolk, Surrey and the Midlands between about 1808 and 1810. Thenceforward he used millboard more infrequently but one of the occasions when he did take it up again for open air work was in Hampstead around 1821-2. Several Hampstead sketches dating from these years are on millboard, including two examples which are especially close in style to View towards the back of a Terrace of Houses: one, A house in the Trees at Hampstead, is in a private collection; and the other, An elder tree in blossom over a Garden Wall is in the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin (G. Reynolds, The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, 1984, nos 21.102 and 21.115).

The elder bush, also seen in View towards the back of a Terrace of Houses, was one of Constable’s favourite trees though he regarded it as possessing overtones of melancholy. These two comparable Hampstead sketches were both once owned by Isabel Constable (1822-1888), the last of Constable’s seven sons and daughters to survive.

She bequeathed them in 1888 to, respectively, F. S. Clayton, the executor of her will, and to her niece, Ella Constable (later Mackinnon). It may be that Isabel also once owned View towards the back of a Terrace of Houses. Certainly we know that she bequeathed or gifted over thirty oils painted by her father to favourite nieces, nephews and friends (I. Fleming-Williams and L. Parris, The Discovery of Constable, 1984, p.89)

The exact location of this study cannot currently be identified. Assuming it does show a view in Hampstead, it may have been made by Constable from the back of 2, Lower Terrace, or else close by.

This is the location where it is assumed he also painted the two well-known oil sketches, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, showing views from the back of a house – one looking over a garden shed, the other over tops of trees towards the roof-line of a neighbouring house, the family washing hanging out to dry in the foreground (Reynolds, op.cit 1984, nos 21.103 and 21.104).

Isabel Constable was born at 2 Lower Terrace, Hampstead, in 1822.”

Foreword by Anne Lyles, Constable Expert and former Curator of 18th and 19th century British art at the Tate Britain, London

Lot 148 is estimated at £20,000-30,000 and is on view to the public on the following dates:

Friday 16 March 1-5pm

Sunday 18 March 10am-2pm

Monday 19 March: 9.30am-5.30pm

Tuesday 20 March 9.30am-12.30pm

Wednesday 21 March 9-9.45am

Or by appointment



*Prices include Buyers Premium of 23%.

For further information please contact Charlotte Meddings  +44 (0) 20 8761 2522


Roseberys is a privately owned auction house operating at the heart of the fine art market for 30 years.

With offices in London’s Mayfair and Lambeth Roseberys offer a calendar of more than twelve specialist fine art, antiques and collectibles auctions each year.

Specialist sales include a wide range of Asian and Islamic Arts, Modern and Contemporary Art and Design, Decorative Art, Fine Silver and Jewellery, Ceramics, Paintings, Prints, Photography, Antique Textiles, Vintage Fashion and Fine Wine and Whisky.

Roseberys team of world-renowned specialists also provide a wide range of art market services to professional clients, including valuations for insurance and probate.

Roseberys is a member of SOFAA – The Society of Fine Art Auctioneers.