A Slide Collection of Constable's Paintings:
Author's Note: Except for the additional illustrations, this article is here published without change from its original 1987 publication in Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation. This article was first presented as a paper in the Visual Resources Association session, "Photography: The Basic Record," held at the XXVIth International Congress of the History of Art in Washington, 11th August 1986.1 Since the point of this lecture was to show the types of original color slides taken by art historians as research notes, the text depended to an unusual extent on the visual images. In spite of the editor's generous provision of illustrations in this article, these can hardly replace the 69 original color slides shown in the lecture. Since there is no possibility of altering the text to provide for the missing slides, I have elected to retain the text almost exactly as presented in Washington, simply indicating where slides were shown, adding only references and a few comments in endnotes. For each work shown in the lecture, I supply here a reference to the best convenient illustration, though of course these almost always reproduce the entire object rather than the details shown and are not usually adequate for the kind of examination of evidence attempted in this lecture.
The general title of this paper, "The Art Historian's Need for Visual Documentation," is so obvious that it need not detain us. Yet, fully understood, the subject is complex and cut through by questions closely tied to the diverse nature of art and of the various ways it is studied. If we were to review all aspects of the art historian's need for visual documentation, no doubt we would conclude that the most basic need continues to be the ready availability of good quality, straight-forward images of every work of art in which scholars have an interest. I shall not be discussing this central function of visual documentation at this time. Fortunately, this primary need is clearly recognized, and - although I do not want to minimize the challenge or importance of the work yet to be done - tremendous strides are being taken toward providing such documentation in a variety of forms.
Instead, I should like to address the need for a kind of visual documentation which is so important to the research of many art historians that, individually, they devote to it precious research time and considerable expense; but which, as far as I have been able to discover, has played almost no part in the planning of institutional photo archives. I am speaking of the art historian's need, in many types of research, for high quality color slides, recording a variety of types of information rarely available in photo archives, and, at least it seems, not likely to be. By their very nature, the best of these slides are taken as research notes by the informed scholars themselves, but these generally remain in their private libraries and gradually deteriorate. I propose that art historians and photo archivists at the major research centers find ways to work together to preserve or copy, somehow make available to the scholarly community these unique visual documents, before they are lost to future scholarship.
From conversations with photo archivists, I realize that this is not a popular subject. Clearly, there are serious problems of color stability, and, especially in the case of prints, of color quality, problems in acquiring or copying these slides and of copyright, but these problems are not likely to be solved until we recognize the importance of the evidence now stored in scholars' private slide libraries. We could spend the full time for this paper debating the pros and cons of this issue and reviewing a spotty survey I conducted, in preparation for this paper, of the few steps already taken in this direction at a few institutions, but there are others more competent to do this than I.2 Instead, let us turn to the evidence of the slides.
I should like to show you the types of visual documentation I have found important to take, not for lecturing but as research notes, in order to study the art of John Constable in the depth which it seems to me to require. Almost none of what I shall be showing is available in any photo or slide archive in the world, nor as far as I can tell, seems likely to be. And I ask you simply to consider - if one were to study the work of a major artist - the difference between having this type of visual documentation available or not.
The question of whether or not research centers should go to the trouble and expense of collecting or copying scholar's research slides turns on the importance and uniqueness of the evidence recorded on these remarkable bits of film. Let us start with a seemingly ordinary watercolor sketch (fig. 1),3 which nevertheless exemplifies the distinctive values of research slides. This watercolor (about 12 centimeters long; 4 3/4 inches) is on one of 33 pages taken from a now famous sketchbook. A few years ago, this sketchbook provided one of the key pieces of evidence in reattributing a number of drawings, watercolors, oil sketches, and small paintings, previously attributed to Constable, to his nearly-forgotten son, Lionel. This watercolor and the other drawings and watercolors from this dismembered sketchbook, in spite of their recent notoriety, have still never been seen - as far as I know - by any other Constable scholar. They are in the Print and Drawing Room of the National Gallery in East Berlin, which I visited in 1973. While there I took slides of all the sketchbook pages, through the good offices of the Curator of Prints and Drawings, Gottfried Riemann, who also first informed me of the sketchbook's existence.
Two years later, I loaned the complete set of original color slides of what we now call "The East Berlin Sketchbook" to the Tate Gallery, to assist in their preparation of the major 1976 bicentenary exhibition of Constable's work.4 Two years after this the organizers of the exhibition, Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, published a now famous article in the Burlington Magazine, reattributing the East Berlin sketchbook and a number of other works to Lionel Constable.5 This was an article of extraordinary importance for clarifying the boundaries of Constable's authentic oeuvre, and I have only praise for the article as a whole; but there were problems with the description of the East Berlin Sketchbook, which illustrate the remarkable types of evidence often recorded on research slides.
In their article, the authors wrote: "Judging only from photographs . . . in one of the inscriptions (on page 14), partly covered by the mount, there appears to be an unaltered '49.'"6 Without having to get on the plane for Berlin, I was able to project the slide of page 14 (fig. 1) and could see that they had misread the bottom shadow as the edge of a mat covering the edge of the paper, whereas, having taken the slide, I knew that I had removed the covering mat and that this was the shadow of the paper falling on the board beneath, as in fact we can see if we look carefully along other sides of the edge. It seemed equally clear that the authors had supposed that this might be an unaltered "4" with the bottom covered by the mat, but, as we can see, this digit is uncertain, certainly not an unaltered "4." Actually, the edge of the page had been trimmed, and this is the bottom of the curved tail of the "9."
Determining whether the dates inscribed on many pages of the sketchbook were "19" or "49" was crucial in the reattribution, since 1819 would exclude Lionel, who was not yet born, and 1849 would exclude his father, who was by then dead. By reexamining all the slides of the sketchbook, more carefully than either the authors or I had done before, I was able to determine and publish,7 without returning to Berlin, that all the inscriptions seemed to have been tampered with, but that in no case could the year be securely read either as a "19" or as a "49" - with one exception. Looking at the original slide of page 2 (slide) and at an enlarged duplicate of the inscription (fig. 2),8 we can see that the inscription was over a fairly deep watercolor wash, so that when the unwanted portion of the "4" was erased a line of watercolor was also removed, and a remnant of the ink stroke remained. Unquestionably a "4" altered to read "l." The year was unquestionably 1849 and the sketchbook convincingly by Lionel.9
I have described this one example in detail because it exemplifies a number of distinguishable characteristics of research slides, each of which can be of specific use to scholars. Preserved on that small piece of film, now in the projector on the left, was the only image ever taken of a key document, recorded in sufficient detail and color that it could be projected large, the inscription read, and a crucial alteration, no more than a millimeter or two long, observed for the first time.
In the remainder of this paper, in order to suggest the range and diversity of the slides I have found it important to take and the different types of information they record, I fear we shall have to move rather fast. I hope you will understand if I do not develop the specific lessons to be learned from each slide as fully as we might like.
The fact that scholars have special access to art in private and public collections means that they can often examine drawings out of their mats and sometimes paintings out of their frames. Here (photo-photo) is the famous l82l oil sketch, Spring: East Bergholt Common, 10 at the Victoria and Albert Museum, on the beveled, grained, back side of an oak panel, a sketch which is so popular that the earlier, less developed, View Across Church Street, at Night (photo),11 actually on the smoother, flat side of the panel, is never displayed.12
In a private collection, this 1809 oil sketch, Dedham Vale from the Lane South of East Bergholt, a Man Resting, 13 was framed to display only the scene (photo). Out of its frame, as here (fig. 3), we can record the inscribed date below in Constable's hand and, on back of the heavy card (fig. 4), a View of Malvern Hall and Stable Block.14 I hope you will forgive me for not taking the advice of my colleagues to mask off the background in these slides. These are taken for research, not lecturing, and for that purpose there is no advantage in destroying the evidence of the environment in which slides were taken.
In addition to having special access, scholars are likely to record more information than commercial photographers when documenting the art in which they are specializing. Given access to an especially interesting oil sketch or drawing, a scholar may take ten or more slides, though we shall only take time to look at four. This is one of Constable's important 1802 studies from nature (photo-photo), in which he first declared himself a natural painter: Road Near Dedham at the Yale Center for British Art.15 Recording various details (slide) allows us to study the technique with which Constable attempted to match his touches of pigment, on heavy twill canvas, against the scene in front of him. This is one of those rare oils which is still on its original canvas and stretcher (photo of back), and has not been relined, so that we may document the excise duty stamp on back of the canvas, the name of the London distributor, and (photo detail) the type of corner Constable fashioned for his small oil sketches at this time.
When studying one of Constable's major, six-foot, exhibition pictures, even a full roll of 36 slides will not always record all the details we may later want to reexamine when writing about the painting. For example (photo), The Leaping Horse,16 in the collection of the Royal Academy of Arts, Constable's RA exhibit of 1825. I have never studied this painting out from under its glass, nor asked to have it removed, so that this inadequate slide of the entire picture is taken from a book. However, with proper lighting, it is possible to take high-quality details, which have much to teach us about Constable's process of picture-making.
Beginning with a detail at the extreme right (photo), we can see first the vertical creases just inside the edge, indicating what used to be the edge of the painted area (which used to extend no farther than what is now the right side of the church tower), before Constable enlarged the painting slightly by unfolding the portion of the canvas folded around the side of the stretcher (he did this on the other sides of this painting also) and then restretching the canvas on a larger stretcher, allowing him to add this narrow band of paint at the extreme right. In reproductions, of course, the picture is always cropped, partially defeating Constable's purpose.
In this detail, we see also the rich diversity of Constable's technique, even in a finished exhibition picture. We shall look next at details of Dedham Church tower and then at this small figure of a man with a horse. In contrast to the loosely painted foliage, Constable more carefully delineates the architecture of the tower (fig. 5), while preserving the vibrant surface of reflected light. Surprisingly, Constable allows this small, ghosty-like horse (photo) to be marked over by a bravura stroke of impasto. As we know from preliminary drawings, an earlier stage of the composition included a willow stump here toward the right (photo), the evidence still visible on the surface of the painting. The remaining willow, at the center of the painting (photo), is especially sketchy and vigorous in its branches at the top, but rough and solid below in its trunk, which partially obscures a figure (fig. 6) unmentioned in any discussion of this painting, an attendant helping the tow-rope, with which the horse is pulling the barge, over the wooden cross-bar of the sluice. This is the figure and his hand here on the tow-rope.
Looking at other figures (fig. 7), we see that Constable manages to give the rider features without unnecessarily tightening his technique. And (no doubt to the dismay of John Barrell, who is anxious to argue Constable's disregard for the working class)17 Constable not only includes but individualizes the wife, daughter, and baby of the barge pilot's family (fig. 8),18 again rather surprisingly, since he manages to do so while retaining the rich texture of his paint surface. Moving yet farther to the left (fig. 9), we see that the prow of the barge has been altered. Initially, Constable had included the back side of the prow, which he then painted out when completing the picture. If we compare the corresponding detail (photo) of the six-foot sketch at the V&A, we see the back side of the prow more clearly, corresponding exactly to the initial form of the prow in the exhibited painting. One of the things I should most like to know about the finished painting of The Leaping Horse is whether or not Constable allowed the evidence of that change to show when he showed the painting to prospective buyers and visitors to his studio.19 We can see various other pentimenti also. At the extreme left of the painting (photo-photo), we see the prow of another barge, which Constable has painted out in the water, but the peak of which remains visible. Although this is a finished painting, immediately above the stern (photo) is an especially dramatic bit of palette knife work.
Research slides are taken not for publication, or even for that matter for lectures (though they may sometimes be used in both ways), but to record information as accurately as possible. Of course, it is impossible to recreate the experience of the original object, but if we recognize that this is the ideal which we are attempting to approximate, we document works of art differently than in most photographs taken for publication. For example (photo), when we photograph a sketchbook, such as this pocket sketchbook at the British Museum, used by Constable in 1819 (which as you see was once attributed to Bonington), we take slides of the entire object, beginning with the front cover (fig. 10), opening to the first double page spread (figs. 11 and 12),20 always recording more than the full page (please leave to the publishers the ruthless straight edges, which eliminate information and have no place in research photographs). It would be a pleasure to look with you at other instructive pages in this sketchbook, but we skip to the back inside cover (fig. 13), to see that several pages have been removed, an important consideration in reconstructing dismembered sketchbooks.
Access to works of art as real, three-dimensional objects, available for examination in Print and Drawing Rooms or Conservation Studios, allows us to take detailed slides of various types of evidence rarely seen by the public, but recognized as essential evidence by curators, conservators, and art historians, everyone concerned with the physical history and current condition of works of art. As we have already seen, there is much to be learned from the backs of pictures, which sometimes look like the front of a William Harnett (fig. 14).21 Each of these labels has meaning, though I have not yet been able to figure out why the one of which I show you a detail (slide) has been so forcefully eradicated.
In Constable scholarship, this type of label (fig. 15) is particularly important,22 authentically signed by Hugh Constable, the grandson of the artist. We now know that these labels do establish that the picture came from the family collection, but - in spite of the claim on the label - not necessarily that it was painted by John Constable.
Out of their mats, works of art on paper can be examined for watermarks.23 We see here (slides) the central portion of Constable's largest extant, pre-1800 drawing, at the Yale Center for British Art, one slide taken by standard reflected daylight, the other by transmitted daylight, showing the wire lines of the laid paper and watermark. Here (figs. 16 and 17) two adjoining pages from a dismembered sketchbook at the Courtauld Institute Galleries,24 photographed against the daylight and rejoined here on the screens: the complete watermark reads "W THOMAS / 1822".
Signatures can be used as one of the bases for authenticating drawings and paintings only if we have many comparisons, carefully photographed, showing variations by type; that is not only by date, but also by such things as size, media, and degrees of formality. Two signatures in pen and ink from the beginning and end of Constable's career: one (figs. 18 and 19) on his earliest signed drawing, 1794, an unpublished drawing in a private collection;25 the other on a late drawing, 1832, at the Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino.26 Here (photo - photo), signatures on two nearly contemporary portraits: one (fig. 20) quite a dashing presentation signature on an 1807 portrait drawing of a young woman, in the British Museum;27 the other (fig. 21) a formal but otherwise workaday signature on an 1808 portrait painting of a boy, in the Johnson Collection, Philadelphia.28 And here (slides) signatures on two, nearly contemporary six-foot canvases: the first (fig. 22) a disputed signature on Constable's large, full-size, 1820 sketch for Stratford Mill, at the Yale Center for British Art;29 the other (fig. 23) a fully accepted signature from his finished 1822 exhibition piece at the Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino, View on the Stour.30 Typically, Constable has highlighted his signature in the exhibition picture, but the deliberate lack of clarity may make it difficult to read: John Constable pinx. London 1822.
Slides taken in conservation studios are particularly informative, often recording the condition of an object before and after restoration; as in these two slides taken by the Photography Department of the National Gallery of Art (photo - photo): Constable's famous 1816 canvas, Wivenhoe Park,31 showing the painting still covered by the old, yellowed varnish, and, in the other slide, the picture cleaned and lightly revarnished, Constable's fresh technique brought back to life. We can also look at the picture during treatment (photo - photo). In the first slide (fig. 24) we see the left half cleaned, the right half still covered by the old, discolored varnish; in the other we see the painting with the old varnish removed, but not yet revarnished, so that the paint surface is quite matt. Also we can see a few areas near the cow, which we can look at more closely in this detail (photo), where the paint had chipped off some years ago and had been inpainted by some previous restorer, not too expertly. Following standard procedure, this old paint was removed, as we see here (fig. 25), and a closer approximation to Constable's paint then touched in before the picture was revarnished. These slides record those few areas which are not painted in Constable's hand, as we can see also in this slide taken from the x-radiograph of the same section before cleaning (fig. 26), showing the same paint losses. The x-radiograph also reveals that the canvas has been extended at the left with an additional strip, sewn onto the central piece of canvas along this seam; almost certainly by Constable himself, with quite fine stitches so that the seam barely shows on the surface of the painting, where it runs through the neck of the cow.
The indispensable value of original color slides is most evident when one is making careful comparisons of works in different collections, such as the same detail of Flatford Mill from the Lock (photo - photo), in a preparatory oil sketch at the V&A,32 and, in the other slide, from Constable's finished 1812 exhibition picture, on long-term loan to the Corcoran Gallery, here in Washington.33 We can see the way in which Constable develops and finishes his more spontaneous initial sketch. But this is often much overstated. Since the sketch is small and the finished painting medium size, we are here comparing similar details of the scene, but unlike sizes. If instead we select details of similar size (figs. 27 and 28); both of these details are about 12.7 cm. long, about 5 inches) we can see that although the finished painting is indeed more finished, actually one of Constable's most finished early exhibition pieces, it is by no means slickly painted. In fact, the strokes of white reflections in the water are quite close in size to those in the sketch; but, more importantly, the finished painting has the most beautiful quality to its surface, its own distinctive sensitivity of touch.
Literally hundreds of similar comparisons can and should be made: here (photo - photo) details from a painting by Claude in the National Gallery, London (fig. 29),34 and Constable's devoted copy in The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (fig. 30).35 As far as I can tell, these two pictures have been together only once since Constable had them on his, or rather on Sir George Beaumont's, easels.36 Here (photo - photo) details of similar hands from two nearly contemporary Constable portraits of men, the one in a private collection in the U.S.,37 the other at the Tate Gallery.38 And here, from the painting of Malvern Hall at the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown,39 a comparison of two slides of the same detail (photo - photo), one taken under normal light, the other under raking light, to record the application of impasto in the statue.
Let us turn now to the important question of color. We all recognize both how problematic color photography has been in the past and that major improvements are now being made in the accuracy, stability and cost of color photography. Others can address these issues more knowledgeably than I. However, I want to emphasize the importance of accurate color documentation for scholars conducting research on the work of a complex artist. This should not really be a debatable point. We are attempting to record information as accurately as possible. If Constable considered color important in his paintings, so should we in our visual documents. But a few illustrations may help. In this oil sketch in the Johnson Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, East Bergholt Common, Sunrise, View to the Rectory (fig. 31),40 Constable is painting, probably from his own bedroom window, not just light emerging from darkness, but the warmth of the morning sun gradually bathing the cool night foliage, a deeply emotional experience which he was attempting to recreate in this sketch.41 Color is here not an additional, isolatable characteristic of the picture but an integral part of a complex visual experience.
And what of color fading? When colors fade, they do not just lighten, but fade differentially, altering the entire balance of a painting, as here in a watercolor, Old Houses on Harnham Bridge, in a private collection (photo - photo).42 We can tell approximately what the color was like, when painted in 1827, by the band of relatively unfaded watercolor along the right edge (fig. 32), which was obviously covered until recently by a mat. Evidence for the original color of a painting or watercolor is of the utmost importance. It is difficult to imagine anything more important to know about a work of art than the relationship between what it looks like as we see it today and what it looked like to the artist and his contemporaries. In these two watercolors of Epsom Downs and Epsom Commom (figs. 33 and 34), one in a private collection,43 the other at the Yale Center for British Art,44 painted by Constable within a few days of each other, we must pour back into the ghost-like remains of the faded example the full rich color of the nearly unfaded Yale Center watercolor, a precious exemplar protected from the light since at least 1859, by which time it had been bound into an extraillustrated copy of Leslie's Memoirs .
Black-and-white photographs, which not only eliminate these important color transformations but often attempt to eliminate much of the fading in the interest of so-called clarity, do not help us to recreate the original appearance of the work. Some years ago, Ernst Gombrich suggested that the immense attention given by art historians to linear perspective was partly dependent on the ease with which perspective diagrams could be drawn on black-and-white photographs. I have no doubt that the lack, until recently, of suitable color photographs or reproductions has contributed to the general disregard of color in scholarly research and writing.45
The slides I have been showing have been taken from a personal archive of over 6,000 original 35mm color slides of the drawings and paintings of John Constable, and over 2,000 original color slides of the work of other artists with whom Constable's work has often been confused; slides which I have taken over the past twenty-three years since beginning serious research on the artist. No one seems to know how many scholars have extensive personal slide libraries on their specialized research topics, or how large these collections are. Most individual slide libraries are not so vast, but my guess is that there are two or three art historians at every major graduate department in the United States with substantial numbers of personal slides focused on some specialized research topic.
The argument of this paper is both obvious and, I hope, persuasive. Art historians who are doing advanced, specialized research often have unique knowledge of and special access to the art they are studying. Many of these art historians regularly take 35mm color slides as research notes, recording a variety of types of information of importance for later study and comparison. Often these are the only extant visual records of this information. In many cases the slides record the color of a painting in enough detail to permit types of comparisons not otherwise possible. Yet most research slides are in danger of being lost to future scholarship. Together, art historians and photo archivists, we must do something about this.
1. My thanks to Helene Roberts, Chair, for inviting me to present this paper, and to Anna Whitworth, Moderator of the session, for help with various transAtlantic queries. Conversations with Christine Sundt in recent years have given me some sense of how specialized research slides relate to the complex field of visual documentation.
2. In my admittedly spotty review of major institutional slide libraries and photo archives, I was not able to find any slide collection consciously being developed, even in part, as a research archive. In a few cases (I think here, for example, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art), the slides of works of art in the permanent collection of an institution and of directly related works in other collections are so comprehensive and so carefully documented that they do provide a research source for much of the permanent collection, whether or not they have been developed for this purpose. Likewise, as the teaching collections developed at the major graduate institutions in the United States continue to grow, and as they begin to house significant numbers of original color slides taken by their faculty and graduate students, these teaching collections are increasingly being used - I am told - along with illustrations in books and photo archives, for the preparation of research papers and publications.
Neither was I able to find any institution systematically collecting scholars' research slides. However, there are a number of limited practices which may develop into more extensive collecting. In a few cases, scholars have donated their personal research slides to institutions. For example, the late, distinguished collector of African art, Katherine White, donated more than 3,500 slides she had taken of African art to Indiana University; and Michael Shellenbarger, Professor of Architecture at the University of Oregon, has willed some 8,000 slides he has taken of masonry construction in various parts of the world to the University of Oregon. Assuming there are other similar examples, a listing of these unique slide archives would be desirable. Several institutions now attempt to acquire the libraries, papers and photo archives of distinguished art historians. I am aware of the C.H. Collins Baker Papers at the Huntington Art Gallery, the R.B.Beckett Papers at the Huntington and at the Tate Gallery, the W.G.Constable Papers at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and British Studies, London, and the Wolfgang Lotz and Julius Held Papers at the National Gallery of Art. In 1984 the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities established their Archives of the History of Art, to collect primary documents related to the history of the discipline, including research files and photographs. To date the Archives have acquired the papers of Erwin Panofsky, Douglas Cooper, Jan Gerrit van Gelder, Ellis Waterhouse, and perhaps others. Clearly it would be useful to have a list of institutional collections of the papers of major art historians. Because these papers have come from elder scholars, archives acquired to date include - I understand - photographs but no slides; but this situation will almost certainly change. Finally, at least one institution has begun copying scholar's research slides in at least one area. The Getty Center has printed some 2,600 Cibachrome photographs of medieval manuscript pages from scholars' original 35mm color slides, loaned to the Center's Photo Archive for this purpose. Although the color appears distressingly artificial, it is clearly desirable to have these often inaccessible images available.
3. Charles S. Rhyne, "Constable Drawings and Watercolors in the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon and the Yale Center for British Art: Part 2. Reattributed Works," Master Drawings, XIX, No. 2 (Winter 1981), fig. 9.
4. It is typical of practice in the discipline of art history that, although we each husband our own unique slides and photographs, we rarely acknowledge the importance of slides and photographs in print. See for example note 24 in the next entry. I hasten to add that these two respected colleagues have generously provided me with important photographs of works in private collections and with color slides of details of Constable paintings in the Tate collection.
5. Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, "Which Constable?" Burlington Magazine, CXX, No. 906 (Sept. 1978), pp. 566-79.
6. Ibid., n. 28.
7. Charles S. Rhyne, "Lionel Constable's East Berlin Sketchbook," Artnews, 77 (Nov. 1978), pp. 92-95 and repros. p. 91.
8. The full page and, in color, a detail of the altered inscription are reproduced in Rhyne, Lionel , p. 92.
9. Other considerations in securely reattributing the sketchbook are reviewed in Rhyne, Lionel , p. 93 and 95.
10. Graham Reynolds, The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable , 2 vols. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1984), G.R. 21.13, pl. 222 (color).
11. Victoria and Albert Museum, Catalogue of the Constable Collection. By Graham Reynolds, 2nd rev. ed. (London: HMSO, 1973, 1st ed. 1960), R. 122a, pl.96.
12. Modern display techniques do make possible the display of both sides of an occasional painting, but the point holds that important secondary images on the backs of many paintings are visible only to scholars with special access.
13. Tate Gallery, Constable: Paintings, Watercolours & Drawings , by Leslie Parris, Ian Fleming-Williams and Conal Shields (London, 1976; 2nd and 3rd eds. with revisions, 1976), no. 90, with small black-and-white reproduction of the entire card and, opposite p.48, a color plate of the scene as framed.
14. The Tate Gallery Constable Collection, By Leslie Parris (London: Tate Gallery, 1981), fig. 2 on p. 40.
15. Graham Reynolds, Constable's England (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983), no. 1 and color plate.
16. Reynolds, Later Paintings, G.R. 25.1, pl. 572 (color).
17. John Barrell, The Dark Side of the Landscape; The Rural Poor in English Painting 1730-1840 (Cambridge University Press, 1980), chap. 3. I have been anxious to support Barrell for undertaking a study of such an important and little studied aspect of Constable's art. However, his reading of evidence, both visual and verbal, is so transparently prejudiced, that one learns a great deal about Barrell's interests but almost nothing, at least nothing new, about Constable's representation of the rural poor in thirty-four pages supposedly devoted to the subject. Barrell nowhere considers the essential observation that Constable's approach to the representation of figures in his landscape is essentially consistent, whether representing the landed gentry, Brighton society, London populace, or the rural poor. An important article on the meaning of the figures in Constable's landscapes remains to be written.
18. A good color detail of the barge and surrounding area is reproduced in Michael Rosenthal, Constable: The Painter and His Landscape, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1983), fig. 203.
19. In Constable's 1812 R.A. exhibition picture, Flatford Mill from the Lock (Rosenthal, Constable , fig. 58 [color]), I am as certain as one can be that the pentimenti above the roof of the Mill, only partially suppressed when the picture was cleaned in 1979, would not have been visible when the painting was first exhibited in 1812. However, working on a much larger, more roughly painted exhibition picture in 1825, Constable might have retained the evidence of some alterations in the finished painting.
20. Reynolds, Later Paintings, G.R. 19.28, pl. 91-118. It is exceptional to see every double-page spread of this sketchbook, with or without drawings, reproduced in this informative series of plates.
21. East Bergholt Church from Church Street (the so-called "Shower at East Bergholt"); small reproduction in Robert Hoozee, L'opera completa di Constable, Classici dell'Arte 98 (Milan: Rizzoli Editore, 1979), H. 69.
22. None of these labels have been illustrated in any publication on Constable. The fact that these labels exist in several different forms may help us to probe further the history of the family collection. For the definitive review of the gradual dispersal of the Constable family collection, see Ian Fleming-Williams and Leslie Parris, The Discovery of Constable (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1984), especially chapters 6 and 7.
23. A Rural Cot; see Charles S. Rhyne, "Constable Drawings and Watercolors in the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon and the Yale Center for British Art: Part I. Authentic Works," Master Drawings, XIX, No. 2 (Summer 1981), no.2, pl. 1.
24. Reynolds, Later Paintings, G.R. 23.67-68, pl.451-52.
25. A Ship with Sails Being Hoisted or Lowered, Other Shipping in the Background; inscribed at bottom-right in pen and ink in Constable's hand: J. Constable. 1794. Private Collection, Great Britain.
26. Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows; Reynolds, Later Paintings, G.R. 32.19, pl. 833 (color).
27. Portrait of Amy Whitmore; ill. on p.16 of Andrew Wilton, "A Portrait Drawing by John Constable," The British Museum Society Bulletin., No.9 (February 1972), pp.16-18.
28. Portrait of Master Crosby; small reproduction in Hoozee, L'opera completa, H. 665, where the picture is classified as a doubtful attribution. I have studied the picture first-hand and feel certain that both the painting and signature are fully authentic.
29. Reynolds, Later Paintings, G.R. 20.2, pl. 130 (color).
30. Ibid., G.R. 22.1, pl. 334 (color).
31. Ibid., G.R. 17.4, pl. 6 (color).
32. Malcolm Cormack, Constable (Cambridge University Press, 1986), pl. 63 (color).
33. Rosenthal, Constable, pl. 58 (color).
34. Rosenthal, Constable, pl. 28 (color).
35. Reynolds, Later Paintings; G.R. 23.36, pl. 424 (color).
36. Following the 1976 Constable bicentenary exhibition at the Tate Gallery, for which the Constable copy was brought from Sydney to London, Michael Kitson arranged to have it hung, for a short time, beside the Claude in the National Gallery. The past few years I have lectured on Constable's Copies, relying on detailed color slides for careful comparisons of works frequently located in different countries.
37. Hoozee, L'opera completa, H. 146.
38. Reynolds, Later Paintings, G.R. 18.35, pl. 63 (color).
39. Ibid., G.R. 21.82, pl. 285 (color).
40. Rosenthal, Constable, pl. 43 (color).
41. The emotional charge in this sketch is central to its meaning. In a lecture first given at the annual meeting of the College Art Association of America, January 1970, and later at various institutions in America and England, I associated this scene with Constable's letters to his future wife, Maria Bicknell, written just four years later, probably from this same window, describing his emotions in looking at the setting sun glowing on the fields where he and Maria had courted, most importantly in 1809 when they declared their love.
42. Reynolds, Later Paintings; G.R. 27.45, pl. 674. The only previous illustration was a full-page, color reproduction in Christie's catalogue, 18th March 1980 (lot 215). In both reproductions, the unfaded right edge is cropped off. Correspondingly dramatic examples of color fading in distemper (also a watercolor medium), in which something approaching the original color has again been preserved along the edges of the paintings, previously protected by covering mats or frames, can be seen in Dirk Bouts' Resurrection of Christ, ca. 1455, on linen, at the Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena (Acc. No. F.80.1.P) and Entombment, on cotton, National Gallery, London (Acc. No. 664). As in the Constable watercolor, the relatively unfaded blue clearly visible along the edges has been largely washed out of the rest of these two painting, leaving the skies, for example, a misleading mauve.
43. Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable Landscape Watercolours and Drawings (London: Tate Gallery, 1976), pl. 7.
44. Rhyne, Constable Drawings, Part I, no.10, pl. 4a. For a discussion of the fading problem, see Charles Rhyne, "The Drawing of Mountains: Constable's 1806 Lake District Tour," in The Lake District: A Sort of National Property (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1986), pp. 62-63.
45. This situation is about to be at least partially corrected with the publication of major books by John Gage and Marcia Hall. We may hope, also, that the extensive research of Charles Parkhurst will someday find its way into print.
Fig. 1. Lionel Constable. Page 14 from the dismembered East Berlin Sketchbook, showing that the inscription is not cut by a covering mat. This photo shows the entire page of the sketchbook, uncropped. 8.2 x 11.0 cm.; 3 1/4 x 4 5/16 in. Berlin: Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Kupferstichkabinett, 670. (photo author)
Fig. 2. Lionel Constable. Detail of page 2 from the East Berlin Sketchbook, showing that the inscription has been altered from "49" to read "19". Detail c. 2.5 x 3.8 cm.; c. 1 x 1 1/2 in. (photo author)
Fig. 3. John Constable, A Lane near East Bergholt with a Man Resting; Dedham Vale from the Lane South of East Bergholt. Photographed when in a previous, private collection, showing the full card removed from its frame. Oil on heavy brown card, trimmed along bottom edge. Inscribed in brush and dark brown paint, in Constable's hand, at lower left under sketch (at this time the inscription covered by mat as framed): "Octr 13. 1809. E.B." and "1809". 30.8 x 33.0 cm.; 12 1/8 x 13 in. (sketch covers top 21.9 cm., 8 5/8 in., of card). Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd., London. (photo author)
Fig. 4. John Constable, Malvern Hall and Stable Block, from the North-West. Verso of fig. 3; the sketches recto and verso run at right angles to each other. Photographed as noted under figure 3. The sketch here covers an area 15.2 x 31.0 cm., 6 x 12 3/16 in., slightly irregular. (photo author)
Fig. 5. John Constable, The Leaping Horse , 1825. Detail showing the unfolded canvas at right and contrast between the loosely painted foliage and more precisely delineated church tower. Detail c. 5.4 x 8.3 cm.; c. 2 1/8 x 3 1/4 in. Royal Academy of Arts, London. (photo author)
Fig. 6. John Constable, The Leaping Horse , 1825. Detail showing figure helping the tow-rope over the wooden cross-bar of the sluice, partially obscure by the trunk of a willow tree. Detail c. 13.7 x 21 cm.; c. 5 3/8 x 8 1/4 in. (photo author)
Fig. 7. John Constable, The Leaping Horse , 1825. Detail showing that Constable has indicated the features of the rider without tightening his technique. Detail c. 7.6 x 11.5 cm.; c. 3 x 4 1/2 in. (photo author)
Fig. 8. John Constable, The Leaping Horse , 1825. Detail showing that Constable has given features and individual characterization to the bargeman's family, even in so tiny a detail. Detail c. 11.2 x 17.4 cm.; c. 4 3/8 x 6 7/8 in. (photo author)
Fig. 9. John Constable, The Leaping Horse, 1825. Detail showing altered prow of barge. Detail c. 14 x 21 cm.; c. 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 in. Royal Academy of Arts, London. (photo author)
Fig. 10. Front cover of pocket sketchbook, bound in red morocco, with empty pencil holder and metal clasp. The sketchbook contains sketches by John Constable, but is inscribed in pen and black ink, in a later hand, on paper fixed to the front cover, "early Sketch Book of Bonington / Sep 9th 1819." c. 7.1 x 9.9 cm.; c. 2 13/16 x 3 7/8 in. British Museum, London, 1972-6-17-15. (photo author)
Fig. 11. John Constable, page fixed inside front-cover of pocket sketchbook. Three inscriptions in pencil, including, in Constable's hand, along top edge of page: "Hampstead - Sepr 9th. 1819." Paper size 6.7 x 9.3 cm.; 2 5/8 x 3 11/16 in. (photo author)
Fig. 12. John Constable, Horse and Cart at a Sandpit on Hampstead Heath, 1819. First page of pocket sketchbook, showing adjoining page (fig.11). Paper size 6.7 x 9.3 cm.; 2 5/8 x 3 11/16 in. (photo author)
Fig. 13. John Constable, page fixed inside back cover of pocket sketchbook, showing inside edge of binding with empty pencil holder along top, and metal clasp. Inscribed in Constable's hand, faintly in pencil along right edge: "[?Hampstead] / Sep 9. 1819". Paper size 6.7 x 9.3 cm.; 2 5/8 x 3 11/16 in. (photo author)
Fig. 14. John Constable, East Bergholt Church from Church Street , 1809. Back of panel, on which the oil sketch, on paper, is laid down, showing the complex information on the backs of some paintings. 19 x 14.6 cm.; 7 1/2 x 5 3/4 in. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon. (photo author)
Fig. 15. Lionel Constable, the so-called "Keswick Lake", ca.1850. Showing one type of label used by Leggatt Bros. Ltd., accurately showing that the work derives from the family collection but mistakenly identifying the artist as John Constable. Label fixed to back of board on which the oil sketch is laid down. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, B1981.25.120. (photo author)
Fig. 16. John Constable, Cloud Study , copied from a print by Alexander Cozens' in his A New Method . . . ," c. 1823. Numbered "13" by Constable after Cozens' no. 29. Paper tipped into window in mount, seen from the back, back lit, showing watermark "W TH / 18 /". 9.5 x 11.4 cm.; 3 5/8 x 4 1/2 in. Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 41.32. (photo author)
Fig. 17. John Constable, Cloud Study, copied from a print by Alexander Cozens' in his A New Method . . . ," c. 1823. Numbered "14" by Constable after Cozens' no. 30. Paper tipped into window in mount, seen from the front, back lit, showing watermark "OMAS / 22 /". 9.4 x 11.4 cm.; 3 5/8 x 4 1/2 in. Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 42.32. (photo author)
Fig. 18. John Constable, A Ship with Sail being Hoisted or Lowered, Other Shipping in the Background. Pen and ink and watercolor on untrimmed sheet of paper, inscribed in Constable's hand (see fig. 19). 18.6 x 27.3 cm.; 7 3/8 x 10 3/4 in. irregular edges; picture area 12.5 x 21.9 cm.; 4 15/16 x 8 5/8 in. Private Collection, Great Britain. (photo author)
Fig. 19. Detail of fig. 18, showing Constable's inscription in pen and ink: "J. Constable . 1794". (photo author)
Fig. 20. John Constable, Portrait of Amy Whitmore , 1807. Showing dashing formal inscription in Constable's hand, in pencil on wove paper: "Constable / Jan.y. 6th 1807". Detail c. 6.0 x 9.2 cm.; c. 2 3/8 x 3 5/8 in. British Museum, London, 1971-10-30.16. (photo author)
Fig. 21. John Constable, Portrait of Master Crosby , 1808. Showing formal inscription in Constable's hand, in brush and black paint on canvas: "J. Constable. P.1808." Detail c. 8.3 x 12.4 cm.; c. 3 1/4 x 4 7/8 in. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia, 873. (photo author)
Fig. 22. John Constable, Full-size Sketch for Stratford Mill, 1820. Showing inscription, possibly in Constable's hand and if so added 1829 or later, with brush in reddish paint, on canvas: "John Constable R.A. / London". Detail c. 13.9 x 20.4cm.; c. 5 1/2 x 8 13/16 in. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, B1983.18. (photo author)
Fig. 23. John Constable, View on the Stour near Dedham , 1822. Showing formal inscription, in Constable's hand, with feigned lights, with brush in brown and cream paint on canvas: "John Constable pinx London 1822". Henry E. Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino. (photo author)
Fig. 24. John Constable, Wivenhoe Park , 1816-17. Showing the painting in the process of cleaning, 28th January 1983, the right half cleaned, the left half still covered by the old, discolored varnish. Oil on canvas. 56.1 x 101.s cm.; 22 1/8 x 39 7/8 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 606. (photo National Gallery of Art: reproduced by permission of the Paintings Conservation Department)
Fig. 25. John Constable, Wivenhoe Park , 1816-17; Detail showing previous paint loss exposed during 1983 cleaning, detail c. 12 x 17.8 cm.; c. 4 5/8 x 7 in. (photo author)
Fig. 26. John Constable, Wivenhoe Park, 1816-17; Detail of x-radiograph made by National Gallery of Art before cleaning, showing the same earlier paint loss seen in fig. 25; also showing nails through canvas into side of stretcher and vertical seam along which Constable had stitched an additional strip of canvas to enlarge the painting. Detail c. 21 x 31.15 cm.; c. 8 1/4 x 12 1/4 in. (photo author)
Fig. 27. John Constable, Flatford Mill from the Lock , 1810-11. Detail of oil sketch; compare fig. 28. Detail c. 8.0 x 12.7 cm.; c. 3 1/8 x 5 in. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 135-1888 (R.103). (photo author)
Fig. 28. John Constable, Flatford Mill from the Lock , 1812. Detail of finished exhibition painting, showing relation between technique of oil sketch and finished painting (section of sketch shown in fig. 27 is same size as the section of painting in fig. 28). Detail c. 8.0 x 12.7 cm.; c. 3 1/8 x 5 in. Private Collection, U.S.A., previously on long-term loan to the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C. (photo author)
Fig. 29. Claude Lorraine, Landscape with a Goatherd and Goats. c. 1636. Oil on canvas. Detail c. 7.2 x 10.8 cm.; 2 7/8 x 4 1/4 in. National Gallery, London, 58. (photo National Gallery, London)
Fig. 30. John Constable, Copy of Claude Lorraine's "Landscape with a Goatherd and Goats," 1823. Constable's copy is almost the same size as Claude's painting, fig. 29. Oil on canvas. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. (photo: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney).
Fig. 31. John Constable, East Bergholt Common at Sunrise, View to the Rectory from Golding Constable's House, 30th Sept. 1810. Oil on paper (not as published elsewhere), damaged around edges, laid down on cradled panel. 14.8 x 23.8 cm.; 5 13/16 x 9 3/8 in. (edges irregular). Inscribed in brush with brown paint along upper-right edge, in Constable's hand: "30 Sept / 1810" and "E Bergholt / Common". Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art. 856. (photo Author)
Fig. 32. John Constable, Old Houses on Harnham Bridge, 1827. Detail showing unfaded watercolor along right edge, once covered by a mat. Detail c. 10.5 x 7.3 cm.; c. 4 1/8 x 2 7/8 in. Private Collection, U.S.A. (photo author)
Fig. 33. John Constable, Epsom Downs, 6th Aug. 1806. 14.2 x 23.1 cm.; 5 5/8 x 9 1/8 in. (sight). Much faded watercolor on paper (cf. fig. 34). Inscribed in pencil, tracing a faint inscription in pencil in Constable's hand: "Epsom. Augst 6t. 1806." Private Collection, Great Britain. (photo author)
Fig. 34. John Constable, Epsom Common, 4th Aug. 1806. 10.6 x 17.4 cm.; 4 1/8 x 6 7/8 in. (all edges trimmed). Unusually well-preserved, unfaded watercolor on paper (cf. fig. 33). Yale Center for British Art, New Haven; Dept. of Rare Books (on 11th intercalated page at back of the Lord Lee of Fareham Volume). (photo author)