Boat waits to enter the lock to move upstream with threatening rainclouds overhead and distant views across the water meadows towards Dedham Church.
The Lock is the fifth of six paintings that make up the Stour series of ‘Landscapes’ that became known as the ‘six-footers’ and which included ‘The White Horse’ 1819, ‘The Haywain’ 1821, ‘A view on the Stour near Dedham’ 1822, ‘Leaping Horse’ 1825, and the sixth being further up stream at Stratford (Stratford Mill 1820)
Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1825, ‘The Lock’ is the only one of the ‘six-footers’ that is upright, or portrait, and also the only one that remains in private hands, last selling at Christie's in July 2012
1825 was eventful for Constable as he both completes and exhibits ‘The Lock’ and ‘Leaping Horse’. In the January he learns that he has been awarded a gold medal by Charles X for his paintings in Paris (‘The Haywain’ 1824 & ‘View on the Stour near Dedham’ 1822 exhibited at Paris Salon, as arranged by Arrowsmith), and also receives a medal from the French Ambassador. In May he sells two landscapes at the Academy, in June Arrowsmith calls as he is pleased with the exhibition pieces and orders more but Constable finds his manner offensive and loses his temper, the dealer apologises, but it’s too late and the relationship is broken off, and so he finishes the year with a short trip to Brighton for Christmas.
The Lock (previously Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid, sold 3 July 2012 at Christie’s for £22,441,250, now Private Collection