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Hampstead Heath, Branch Hill Pond

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain, Uk (painted)

  • Date:

    1828 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Constable, John RA, born 1776 - died 1837 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Paintings, room 87, case WEST WALL

Constable painted several versions of this composition. It is based on an oil sketch. The finished painting may be that praised by a critic as 'A rich and varied piece of colouring…A shower has apparently just passed over, and a few flitting clouds throw their flickering lights and shades over the country'.

Physical description

Oil on canvas depicting a view on Hampstead Heath and Branch Hill Pond and a horse and buggy and figures in the foreground.

Place of Origin

Great Britain, Uk (painted)


1828 (painted)


Constable, John RA, born 1776 - died 1837 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'No 2 Landscape John Constable 35 Charlotte Street Fitzroy Square'


Height: 59.6 cm estimate, Width: 77.6 cm estimate, Height: 96.5 cm Frame, Width: 114 cm Frame

Object history note

Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857

Historical context note

In 1828 Constable exhibited at the Royal Academy two paintings called 'Landscape'. One was 'Dedham Vale' (National Gallery of Scotland, No. 2016); the other was 'Hampstead Heath' (No. 301 in this Catalogue [Museum No. FA.35]. His seventh child, Lionel Bicknell, was born on 2 January. Mrs. Constable died on 23 November.

Descriptive line

Oil painting entitled 'Hampstead Heath, Branch Hill Pond' by John Constable. Great Britain, 1828.

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

Catalogue of the Constable Collection, Graham Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1973, cat. no. 301
The following is the full text of the entry:

No. 171, painted in 1819, is the sketch for this work, and a list of other versions is given in the note on that sketch. No. 301 has hitherto been identified with the painting 'A Heath', exhibited by Constable at the Royal Academy in 1830. This identification goes back before the receipt of the picture in the Museum, to the undated hand-list of c.1850 The Collection of Pictures formed by John Sheepshanks, Esq., and therefore evidently represents the belief of Sheepshanks, the purchaser and donor of the painting (see also note to No. 323). To be precise, the hand-list merely records two paintings entitled 'Hampstead Heath', one with 1827 and the other with 1830 as the date of exhibition. As No.301 was clearly the later in point of style, it s naturally taken to be the one believed to have been exhibited in 1830, and the other, No. 323 in this Catalogue, was taken to be that shown in 1827. It will be seen below that the date assigned to No. 323 was incorrect and that in all probability neither of the dates 1827 nor 1830 applies either to No. 301 or to No. 323.
Mr. R. B. Beckett has communicated two facts which prove that No. 301 was the painting of Hampstead Heath exhibited by Constable as 'Landscape' at the Royal Academy in 1828. The first is that Lucas noted in the margin of his proof copy of Leslie's Life of Constable that Sheepshanks had bought for 80 guineas the painting of Hampstead Heath exhibited in 1828 and originally bought by Chantrey. The other is that in the letter from Constable to Lucas of August 1830 outlining his plans for English Landscape Scenery (S. : L., p. 32), the phrase doubtfully transliterated as "Chartrup Heath" should be read as "Chantrey's Heath". Since No. 301 is the original of the mezzotint 'A Heath' by Lucas (S. 23) the painting of 1828 purchased by Sheepshanks is thus identified with it. Although Constable regarded the painting as Chantrey's property for a number of years, it appears that Chantrey himself could not decide whether he wanted it or not. The first account of the sale is given in Constable's letter of II June 1828 to Fisher: "Painted a large upright landscape (perhaps my best). It is in the Exhibition, noticed (as a redeemer) by John Bull, & another, less in size but better in quality, purchased by Chantrey" (Beckett, VI, p. 236). The large upright landscape mentioned here is the 'Dedham Vale' now in the National Gallery of Scotland. However, on 4 March 1832 Constable wrote to Leslie: "Mrs. Leslie was so kind as to speak of me (the usual kind way in which you are all so good as to consider me) to Mr Lawley, who called yesterday afternoon-and nothing seemed to me more agreeable than we both were, 'to one another', he admiring my pictures, I admiring him for his so doing-but he has not admired only he has taken a great fancy to my 'Heath', and to my 'book', which is indeed assuming a very tangible shape-but not so my Heath. That picture is somehow got intangled with Chantrey in a most ridiculous way-who will neither take it nor refuse it. It is plain he must have considered it his by his telling the Watts Russells so-for when he blamed them for not taking my picture of me since, he said-"Well-I have"-this he told me. But when I wrote to him to know his pleasure-and to ask if my 'delay' or 'any seeming lukewarmness on my part',-had 'caused me to forfeit his patronage, of which I should be proud at all times', &c &c- he made me no answer nor did he write any answer to my letter" (Beckett, III, p. 64). Sheepshanks may have bought the painting by June 1835 when two pictures by Constable belonging to him were seen by Lord Northwick at Tiffin's gallery in the Strand (Becketr, IV, pp. 1889). One of the two, which Lord Northwick wanted in exchange for a Hobbema, is referred to by Constable as 'The Church' (P. Leslie, p. 135). However, Sheepshanks must have disposed of this painting of a church before he gave his paintings to the nation ('Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds', No. 254, was acquired by him at the Executors' sale in 1838), and therefore it cannot be assumed that he did not also relinquish the second picture which was seen at Tiflin's.
Holmes, p. 249, though he accepted the statement that the picture was exhibited in 1830, suggested that it had been begun two or three years earlier.
The mezzotint by David Lucas, which was much altered by the artist during the proof stages, was published in the third number of English Landscape Scenery, September 1831(S.: L., pp. 183-4). In the early lists of contents it was alternatively entitled 'Hampstead Heath. Stormy noon' and 'Hampstead Heath. Sand Pits. Storm approaching' (S.: L., pp. 230-1).

Graham Reynolds"
Ulrich Bischoff, Luc Tuymans & Andreas Dehmer, Constable, Delacroix, Friedrich, Goya: Shock to the senses. Dresden :Staatliche kunstsammlungen ;Sandstein,2013. 9783954980277
Rubens and his legacy London : Royal Academy of Arts, 2014. ISBN: 9781907533778

Exhibition History

A Shock to the Senses: Constable, Delacroix, Friedrich and Goya (Galerie Neue Meister, Dresden 16 March 2013-14 July 2013)
John Constable, selected by Lucian Freud (Grand Palais 10/10/2002-13/01/2003)


Canvas; Oil colour


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Landscapes (representations); Pond; Branch Hill Pond



Collection code


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