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Stonehenge

  • Object:

    Watercolour

  • Place of origin:

    Salisbury (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    1835 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    John Constable (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Isabel Constable, daughter of the artist

  • Museum number:

    1629-1888

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room 315, case 20, shelf L

  • Public access description

    Constable painted this watercolour at a sad time in his life. Both his wife, Maria, and his closest friend, John Fisher, had died, and his two eldest sons had left home. He is perhaps expressing his personal unhappiness in the watercolour, for the image is certainly a melancholy one. The painting was exhibited in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of 1836. Some of the lines that accompanied this painting in the catalogue describe 'The mysterious monument of Stonehenge, standing remote on a bare and boundless heath...'. Constable himself probably wrote them.

  • Physical description

    Watercolour of stonehenge with a colourful sky.

  • Marks and inscriptions

    'Stonehenge" The mysterious monument of Stonehenge, standing remote on a bare and boundless heath, as much unconnected with the events of past ages as it is with the uses of the present, carries you back beyond all historical records into the obscurity of a totally unknown period"'
    Inscribed on the mount in ink in a careful script.

  • Dimensions

    Height: 38.7 cm, Width: 59.7 cm, Height: 575 mm Oak frame, Width: 783 mm Oak frame, Depth: 21 mm Oak frame

  • Historical context note

    'In 1836 Constable's two exhibits at the Royal Academy were the 'Cenotaph to the memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds' (now in the Tate Gallery, No. 1272) and the watercolour 'Stonehenge' (No. 395 [1629-1888]). He gave four lectures on 'The History of Landscape Painting' at the Royal Institution in May and June of this year and his last lecture, at Hampstead, on 25 July. Constable died on 31 March 1837. His almost completed painting 'Arundel Mill and Castle' (now in the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio; see No. 379 [260-1888]) was exhibited posthumously at the Royal Academy.'

    [G Reynolds, 1973, p. 233]

  • Descriptive line

    Watercolour, 'Stonehenge' by Constable, 1835

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

    Parris, Leslie and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable London : The Tate Gallery, 1991. ISBN 1854370707 / 1854370715. 544 p. : ill. (some col.)
    Making History. Antiquaries in Britain 1707-2007 London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2007. ISBN 978-1-905711-04-8 (pbk)
    Catalogue of the Constable Collection, Graham Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1973, p. 233
    Evans, M., with N. Costaras and C. Richardson, John Constable. Oil Sketches from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A, 2011, p. 33, fig. 31.
    Lambert, Susan. Drawing: Technique & Purpose. London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1981. p.53.
    Timothy Wilcox, Constable and Salisbury. The Soul of Landscape London: Scala Publishers Ltd, 2011. ISBN: 978 1 85759 678 6.
    p.73, pl.61
    British watercolours : 1750-1950 / Katherine Coombs. London: V&A Publications, 2012
    Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser and T. J. Barringer Thomas Cole's journey : Atlantic crossings New York : The Metropolitan Museum of Art, [2018]. ISBN: 9781588396402
    p. 177

  • Collection code

    Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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