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Print - After Constable's Elm
  • After Constable's Elm
    Freud, Lucian, born 1922 - died 2011
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After Constable's Elm

  • Object:


  • Date:

    2003 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Freud, Lucian, born 1922 - died 2011 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Etching on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased through the Julie and Robert Breckman Print Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room WS, case R, shelf 50, box R

In this etching Lucian Freud, one of the most important British artists of his generation, takes inspiration from a picture painted by John Constable in around 1821, called Study of the Trunk of an Elm Tree. This painting was bequeathed to the V&A by Isabel Constable, John Constable’s daughter, in 1888. Freud attempted to copy it when he was a student, but gave up because it was so difficult. This print, made decades later and titled After Constable's "Elm", can be understood as an artist’s response to another artist’s work, with Freud offering a comment on the Constable painting: the 21st century addressing the 19th.

The V&A lent extensively to a retrospective of the works of John Constable chosen by Lucian Freud, which was held in Paris in 2002. The French catalogue for this exhibition included a conversation between Freud and William Feaver, the exhibition curator. The British Council reprinted a translation of the conversation in the book Freud on Constable. Lucian Freud made this new etching specially for the book.

Physical description

A print showing a tree trunk with a forest in the background.


2003 (made)


Freud, Lucian, born 1922 - died 2011 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Etching on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'40/46 L.F'
1) Makers's mark; under the image


Height: 48 cm sheet, Width: 38 cm sheet, Height: 31 cm plate, Width: 24 cm plate

Descriptive line

Lucian Freud, After Constable's Elm, etching, 2003

Labels and date

Though best known as a painter, Freud also worked extensively with etching. This print was inspired by John Constable’s famous painting of the trunk of an elm tree, which he had seen in the V&A when he was a student. Fascinated by the unpretentious naturalism of the original, Freud decided to copy it after seeing it again when selecting works by Constable for an exhibition in Paris.


Somerset textured paper



Subjects depicted

Homage; Forests; Tree, Elm




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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