John Constable (1776-1837)
The Lock (1824)
Estimated: £20 million to £25 million
John Constable (1776-1837)
The Hay Wain (1821)
London, National Gallery
May 29 2012, source: Christie’s / theartwolf
One of six paintings that make up the artist’s most celebrated series of large scale works which also includes "The Hay Wain", now in The National Gallery of London, "The Lock" is the last to remain in private hands. The work has been sold only once since it was acquired from the artist. When bought at auction in 1990 for £10.8 million, it became the most valuable British painting ever sold at the time – a record it held for 16 years. It is expected to realise £20 million to £25 million on 3 July.
"The Lock" was finished in 1824, one of the most significant years in Constable’s career, which saw The Hay Wain exhibited at the Paris Salon and King Charles X of France award him a gold medal. Constable’s success in France has been seen by many art historians as having significantly influenced the course of the history of art; Constable’s intense observation of nature inspired French artists in a movement of landscape painting that would find its fullest expression half-a-century later in the work of the Impressionists.
"The Lock", which Constable exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1824, his sole exhibit there of that year, is one of the artist’s finest landscapes, and is one of six paintings that make up The Stour Series - one of the most important and influential bodies of work in the history of art. Exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1819 and 1825, the works from this series were the first of the ‘six foot’ canvases that define his artistic maturity. "The Lock" is a distillation of Constable’s profound emotional and artistic response to the scenery of his native Suffolk that was central to his art. Among the series are several of Constable’s most renowned works, including "The Hay Wain" and "The Leaping Horse". "The Lock", which is remarkable for its excellent state of preservation, is the only one of this series to remain in private hands.
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza shared her husband’s passion for collecting and they spent much of their marriage visiting museums, art galleries, auction houses and artist’s studios. The Baron and Baroness continued to acquire works of art after the creation of the trust which, together with a core group that had been inherited from his father, formed a separate, private collection of approximately 800 works. Of these, approximately 400 have since been on free loan the Museum, including "The Lock". The sale of this painting will safeguard the future of the private collection and will allow the loan of other paintings to the Museum to be secured for the foreseeable future.