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Autumnal Sunset

A colourful sunset with figures and rooks, looking west from the end of Cemetery Lane in East Bergholt.

It is said that this sketch utilizes a fragment cut from the same canvas as another bearing the date 7 July 1812 but we have not been able to identify that piece.


Details

Constable spent 4 months in East Bergholt during the summer of 1812 and his letters to Maria at that time give glimpses of his state of mind.  He talks of the ‘melancholy pleasure’ he took in revisiting places he particularly associated with her, of his reading Cowper – ‘the poet of Religion and Nature’ – and of the ‘hermit-like life’ he was leading, ‘though always with my pencils (brushes) in my hand’

'How much real delight' he wrote on 22 July, ‘have I had with the study of Landscape this summer either I am myself much improved in ‘The art of seeing nature’ or Nature has unveiled her beauties to me with a less fastidious hand – perhaps there may be something of both so we will divide these fine compliments between us – but I am writing this nonsense to you with a really sad heart – when I think what would be my happiness could I have this enjoyment with you then indeed would my mind be calm to contemplate the endless beauties of this happy country'.

After a brief meeting with Maria in London towards the end of the summer. Constable returned to Bergholt but could not resume his landscape studies: ‘I have not found myself equal to that vivid pencil that class of painting requires’

Donated to the V&A by Isabel Constable, daughter of the artist in 1888

*Isabel Constable was the last surviving daughter of the painter and gave the contents of her father’s studio to the Victoria & Albert Museum, making them the principal collector of Constable's work including 395 oil paintings, sketches, drawings, watercolours and sketchbooks.

 

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