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Watercolour - East Bergholt Church: north archway of the ruined tower
  • East Bergholt Church: north archway of the ruined tower
    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837
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East Bergholt Church: north archway of the ruined tower

  • Object:

    Watercolour

  • Place of origin:

    East Bergholt, United Kingdom (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1805-ca. 1811 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837 (painter)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil and watercolour on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Isabel Constable, daughter of the artist

  • Museum number:

    343-1888

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case WD, shelf 14

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East Bergholt Church features frequently in Constable's watercolours, but this view of the ruined tower is relatively unusual. Images of ruins were a recurrent theme in Romantic art and literature. Constable would return to painting ruins after the death of his wife in 1828, when they took on a more personal significance.

This watercolour is difficult to date because Constable preserved the same manner in his watercolours of East Bergholt Church for a number of years. It was probably painted between 1805 and 1811.

Physical description

A watercolour depicting the archway of the ruined tower of East Bergholt Church.

Place of Origin

East Bergholt, United Kingdom (painted)

Date

ca. 1805-ca. 1811 (painted)

Artist/maker

John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837 (painter)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil and watercolour on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Drawing of East Bergholt Church by J. Constable'
'East Bergholt Church'

Dimensions

Height: 250 mm, Width: 199 mm

Object history note

This drawing has proven difficult to date because Constable preserved the manner which he used for watercolours of East Bergholt Church for a number of years. C. J. Holmes (1902) has dated it to June 1806, but Reynolds disagrees, arguing that it could have been painted between 1805 and 1811.

Historical context note

Ruins were a recurrent theme in Romantic art and literature; Constable would return to the subject in later years, most notably in Hadleigh Castle, painted after the death of his wife in 1829.

'Constable's only exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1806 was No. 65 [169-1888]. In June he was at East Bergholt, as is attested by Nos. 66 and 67 [224-1888 and 346-1888]. In the autumn he paid a visit of some two months to the Lake District and made many drawings, among them Nos. 72-94 [794-1888, 348-1888, 192-1888, 812-1888, 170-1888, 185-1888, 188-1888, 184-1888, 187-1888, 178-1888, 179-1888, 177-1888, 193-1888, 183-1888, 1256-1888, 596-1888, 181-1888, 182-1888, 1257-1888, 811-1888, 349-1888].

G Reynolds, 1973, p. 56

Descriptive line

Watercolour of East Bergholt Church, the north archway of the ruined tower, by John Constable

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

G. Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum: Catalogue of the Constable Collection, 1973, p. 57, no. 68.
Reynolds contests the date given by Homes (see below) on the basis that Constable's manner in watercolours of East Bergholt Church remained the same over many years.

The following is the full text of the entry:

'This drawing is listed at this point of the Catalogue because of its affinities in subject-matter and style with Nos 66 and 67 [224-1888 and 346-1888]. Holmes, p. 240, implies that the drawing is dated June 1806, but this is not the case.

Note on Nos. 66-71

These drawings are carried out in a manner which Constable preserved for a number of years when making watercolours of East Bergholt Church, the consistency of which makes the precise dating of uninscribed examples, such as Nos. 68-70, impracticable. An early instance is found in the watercolour 'East Bergholt Church' in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, which is signed and dated 1805, and is virtually identical with No. 70 [200-1888] apart from being two inches more in height. A later example is the drawing of 1811 recorded in the note on No. 70.'

Reynolds, pp. 57-58
C. J. Holmes, Constable and his Influence on Landscape Painting, 1902, p. 240.
Holmes dates the watercolour to June 1806, a date which Reynolds contests.
Evans, M., with N. Costaras and C. Richardson, John Constable. Oil Sketches from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A, 2011, p. 41, cat. no. 8.

Materials

Pencil; Watercolour

Techniques

Watercolour

Subjects depicted

Churches; East Bergholt

Categories

Drawings

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O117921
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