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Lost Constable Oil Painting Sells For £200,000 At Auction

Lost Constable Oil Painting Sells For £200,000 At Auction

A painting by John Constable hung on the wall of a terraced house in Guernsey for 44 years has recently sold at auction for £200,000. The Guardian reports that this was double the guide price set by Martel Maides Auctions in St Peter Port. 

The oil on canvas sketch created particular excitement because it was done at the Suffolk location of Constable’s most famous masterpiece, ‘The Hay Wain.’ It shows the rear view of the farm cottage that features in that painting, and was thought to have been done seven years earlier in 1814.

The oil sketch was first noticed several years ago in an old terraced house in Guernsey, but was not thought to be by Constable. When the owner of the house died, the estate was passed to Martel Maides Auctions and has since been verified as a genuine Constable work. The last record of it was made in 1979.

Jonathan Voak, a paintings specialist at the auction house, said: “It was a terrific result comparing it with the estimate of between £80,000 and £120,000. There was a great atmosphere in the sale room. Multiple telephone bidders and lots of people in the room who wanted to see it being sold. The interest has been phenomenal.”

He added: “It’s an anonymous bidder [who was successful] but the picture will be staying in Guernsey. It will go into a private collection here. It’s had a good old airing and I think people will be glad to hear it’s going to stay in Guernsey.”

“The painting was found among a large number of items that came from an old terrace house in Guernsey. It was first seen by a member of our team hanging in a dark corner of the dining room.”

“That was some years ago and at that time it was certainly not thought to be a genuine Constable. It subsequently came to MMA when the owner died as part of the deceased estate.”

John Constable (1776- 1837) was famed for his landscape scenes, the majority of which are of the Suffolk countryside where he grew up. He was a self-taught painter who was not highly acclaimed in his lifetime, but his work is now celebrated for its realism and freshness. 

He preferred to paint scenes from everyday life rather than the romanticised visions of ruins or desolate hillsides that were in favour during his lifetime. His landscapes almost always feature a touch of human interest, such as a church, figures, or cottages.

Due to the unpopularity of his subject matter, Constable also worked as a portrait painter to make ends meet as an artist. He was competent at this work but reportedly found it dull. He also took commissions from wealthy patrons to paint country houses to supplement his income. 

Today, Constable is regarded as one of the world’s greatest painters and his work is on permanent display at galleries around the world. 

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