Constable drawings from a Norfolk home sell for £187,000 at auction

A collection of eight drawings’, seven by John Constable RA (1776-1837) and the eighth by his son Lionel (1828-1887), were auctioned in Cheffins March Fine Art auction. A collection of eight drawings’, seven by John Constable RA (1776-1837) and the eighth by his son Lionel (1828-1887), were auctioned in Cheffins March Fine Art auction.

Thursday, March 6, 2014
2:15 PM

They were bought for £500 in 1952, but a collection of Constable drawings from a Norfolk home have just sold for £187,000 - more than triple what was estimated.

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What the drawings sold for:

Storm Clouds, 8 x 12cm Est: £6,000-8,000. Sold for £44,000

Heavy Horse at rest beside a plough, 1816. 9 x 11cm. Est: £6,000-8,000. Sold for £42,000

River Meadows 12 x 23cm. Est: £8,000-12,000. Sold for £38,000

Flatford Lock with Flatford footbridge, 14 x 19cm. Est: £8,000-12,000 Sold for £24,000

Study of Trees, 18 x 24cm. Est: £6,000-8,000. Sold for £16,000

Windmill with storm clouds, 7 x 12cm. Est: £4,000-6,000. Sold for £12,000

Cottage with a figure, 7 x 12cm. Est: £4,000-6,000. Sold for £9,000

Trees by the edge of a field, 17 x 25cm Est; £1,000-2,000 Lionel Bicknell Constable. Sold for £2,000

A total sale price of £187,000.

The seven drawings by Suffolk artist John Constable and an eighth by his son Lionel went under the hammer at Cheffins Fine Art Sale in Cambridge today.

Altogether they had been estimated to raise between £43,000 and £62,000, but the drawings, which attracted international interest, far exceeded expectations.

The top price of £44,000 was paid for John Constable’s depiction of Storm Clouds while his drawing Heavy Horse at rest beside a plough, 1816 - thought to have been drawn while he was on honeymoon with his wife Maria - went for £42,000.

Sarah Flynn, head of the paintings department at Cheffins, said: “It is fantastic. They have been so admired all week and we have had lots of interest.

A collection of eight drawings’, seven by John Constable RA (1776-1837) and the eighth by his son Lionel (1828-1887), were auctioned in Cheffins March Fine Art auction.A collection of eight drawings’, seven by John Constable RA (1776-1837) and the eighth by his son Lionel (1828-1887), were auctioned in Cheffins March Fine Art auction.

“I was expecting them to go above the guide price but they have exceeded my expectations. It was a thrilling day at the sale.”

She said she thought the great interest was because they were “such lovely, new and fresh drawings” for Constable enthusiasts.

The drawings had been owned by the same family since 1952, when the vendor’s father purchased them for £500 from London fine art dealers Leggatt Brothers.

They hung on the walls of a Norfolk country house but were largely unregarded until the family were planning to move house and consulted Cheffins auctioneers about the works.

Anne Lyles, the leading authority on the work of John Constable was very excited about the discovery and having authenticated the drawings wrote as part of the catalogue introduction: “This remarkable group of drawings - seven by John Constable and one attributed to his son, Lionel Constable - can be traced back to the stock of London fine art dealers Leggatt Brothers, who handled a large quantity of Constable’s sketches in oil, watercolour and pencil in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

“The vendor’s father purchased this group of drawings from Leggatt Brothers in 1952, for £500. The drawings had been committed for sale by H.A. Sutch. Sutch was also a London art dealer who, together with Fredrick C. Williams, had been in partnership with William Lawson Peacock with premises in Duke Street St James and Bond Street as well as in Princes Street, Edinburgh.”

• Do you have a story about the arts? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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