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Drawing - Study of ash trees
  • Study of ash trees
    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837
  • Enlarge image

Study of ash trees

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Suffolk (drawn)

  • Date:

    1817 (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil and paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Isabel Constable, daughter of the artist

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case TOPIC, shelf 13, box B

Constable usually made studies directly from nature for his large oil paintings, and this study of ash trees may be an example of his working method: the foremost tree, with a dead branch hanging against its trunk, appears to be the same as that in the right foreground of a painting owned by Tate Britain, The Valley Farm. However, the sketch's resemblance to studies of ash trees at Hampstead may suggest that this is an independent drawing, done after the completion of the painting.

Physical description

Pencil drawing of two ash trees with dramatically shadowed trunks and sunlit crowns. The tree in the foreground has a dead branch hanging down two-thirds of the way up the trunk.

Place of Origin

Suffolk (drawn)


1817 (drawn)


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

Materials and Techniques

Pencil and paper

Marks and inscriptions



Height: 328 mm, Width: 238 mm

Object history note

Historical significance: In 1818 Constable first exhibited one of his tree studies at the Royal Academy; previously he had exhibited oil paintings almost exclusively there.

Historical context note

In 1817 Constable exhibited four works at the Royal Academy: 'Scene on a navigable river' ('Flatford Mill on the River Stour') (Tate Gallery No. 1273); 'A Cottage' (see No. 352 [1631-1888]); 'Wivenhoe Park, Essex, the seat of Major-General Rebow' (National Gallery of Art, Washington: Widener Collection); and a portrait of John Fisher, still in the Fisher family collection. He spent ten weeks of the summer at East Bergholt. His first child, John Charles, was born on 4 December.

[G Reynolds, 1973, p. 115]

Descriptive line

Drawing 'Study of ash trees' by John Constable

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

G. Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum: Catalogue of the Constable Collection, 1973, pp. 118-19, no. 163.
Parris, Leslie and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable London : The Tate Gallery, 1991. ISBN 1854370707 / 1854370715. 544 p. : ill. (some col.)
Catalogue of the Constable Collection, Graham Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1973, pp. 115, 118, 119
Anne Anderson, Tim Craven, Della Hooke. Steve Marshall, Ian Massey, Under the Greenwood. Picturing the British tree from Constable to Kurt Jackson ISBN: 9781908326300
p. 35





Subjects depicted

Tree, ash




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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