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Drawing - Cottage at East Bergholt, with a cottager
  • Cottage at East Bergholt, with a cottager
    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837
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Cottage at East Bergholt, with a cottager

  • Object:

    Drawing

  • Place of origin:

    Suffolk (drawn)

  • Date:

    1796 (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837 (drawn by)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink and paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Isabel Constable, daughter of the artist

  • Museum number:

    358E-1888

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case WD, shelf 12

This sketch of a cottage in Constable's native East Bergholt is one of his earliest known dated drawings. The light, schematic, somewhat tentative style is typical of his early work. However, it is one of only two drawings in his first sketchbook to include a human figure, and is on the only sheet divided to accommodate two drawings.

In 1796, the year Constable created the sketchbook from which this drawing comes, he had not yet committed himself to an artistic career; it was assumed that he would enter his father's business. The same year, he met the writer J. T. 'Antiquity' Smith, who was collecting material for a book on rural scenery. Constable offered him several sketches of local cottages for possible inclusion in the book. Although Smith responded positively, he ultimately chose not to include any of Constable's cottage sketches in the published book.

Physical description

Pen and ink drawing of a thatched cottage with a long, sloping room, flanked by trees. A man sits in a chair in front of the cottage.

Place of Origin

Suffolk (drawn)

Date

1796 (drawn)

Artist/maker

John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837 (drawn by)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink and paper

Marks and inscriptions

'E Bergholt Suffolk'

Dimensions

Height: 143 mm drawn surface, Width: 179 mm drawn surface

Object history note

This drawing is one of the earliest dated drawings by Constable of which the whereabouts are known.

Historical context note

John Constable was born in East Bergholt, Suffolk, on 11 June 1776, the second son of Golding Constable, a well-to-do mill-owner, and Ann Watts. His fondness for painting, without any marked precocity, had already declared itself by the time he was 16 or 17: and he was encouraged in this taste by his friendship with John Dunthorne, a plumber and glazier of East Bergholt, who was an amateur painter.

Excluding copies after engravings, 358E-1888 is among the earliest dated drawings by Constable of which the whereabouts are now known. In 1796, Constable, not yet firmly committed to an artistic career, met the writer J. T. 'Antiquity' Smith, who was compiling Remarks on Rural Scenery; With twenty etchings of Cottages, from Nature; and some observations and precepts relative to the pictoresque (published June 1797). Constable wrote to Smith in October 1796, offering to send him several drawings of cottages, perhaps from this sketchbook, which he might find suitable for his purposes. Although Smith apparently responded positively, none of Constable's drawings appears in the published edition.

In 1797 Constable was following his father's business in Suffolk. In 1799 he went to London to pursue his career in the arts, and on Farington's recommendation he was admitted as a probationer to the Academy Schools in March of that year.

Lt.-Col. C. A. Brooks considers that this drawing represents a cottage at Marsh Farm, Brantham, which was demolished in 1958 (G. Reynolds, Catalogue of the Constable Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1973, p.34)In 1796, Constable, not yet firmly committed to an artistic career, met the writer J. T. 'Antiquity' Smith, who was compiling Remarks on Rural Scenery; With twenty etchings of Cottages, from Nature; and some observations and precepts relative to the pictoresque (published June 1797). Constable wrote to Smith in October 1796, offering to send him several drawings of cottages, perhaps from this sketchbook, which he might find suitable for his purposes. Although Smith apparently responded positively, none of Constable's drawings appears in the published edition.

Descriptive line

Drawing of a cottage at East Bergholt, with a cottager, by John Constable

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

G. Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum: Catalogue of the Constable Collection, p. 34, no. 7.

Materials

Pen and ink

Techniques

Drawn

Subjects depicted

Suffolk; East Bergholt; Cottages

Categories

Drawings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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