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The Lock, one of John Constable’s most famous compositions sold for £9,109,000 / €12,562,266 / $13,699,025 at Sotheby’s London, 160 years after its last appearance on the market. The monumental landscape depicting the countryside of the painter’s “careless boyhood” was the highlight of the Old Master & British Paintings Evening sale which featured a significant number of museum-quality works and totalled £22.6 million / €31.2 million / $34 Million (est. £21.8-32.6 million).

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Next week, The Lock, one of John Constable’s most famous compositions will reappear on the market for the first time in 160 years. The monumental landscape - depicting the countryside of the painter’s “careless boyhood” - will lead Sotheby’s London Evening auction of Old Master & British Paintings on 9th December. The sale will be further distinguished by museum-quality works, an unusually large number of which are from private collections and come to the market for the first time in several generations.

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Monday, 28 September 2015 10:28

John Constable’s “The Lock” Heads to Auction

A painting British artist John Constable kept by his side until his death is to be offered for sale.

The Lock - one of a small group of landscapes known as the Six-Footers - will be put up for sale in December by Sotheby's auction house.

The painting of a bucolic scene on the River Stour in Suffolk is estimated to be worth £8-12m.

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Tate trustees have temporarily reversed their decision to restitute a Constable seascape to a Nazi-era spoliation claimant. Last year the UK’s Spoliation Advisory Panel recommended that the picture should be returned to the heirs of its pre-war Hungarian owner.

A Tate spokeswoman told "The Art Newspaper": “New information has come to light on the history of the painting "Beaching a Boat, Brighton," 1924, by John Constable in Tate’s collection. This was reviewed by Tate. The Tate trustees have now approached the [DCMS] Secretary of State to invite the Spoliation Advisory Panel to review the new information. We cannot comment further at this stage.”

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Many in the crowd of dealers, collectors, and onlookers attending Sotheby's main sale of Old Master paintings on Thursday January 29 remarked on the difference that a single day made when contrasting the sale with the dismal results at Christie's Old Masters sale the day before (see: Canaletto, Caravaggio Fail to Sell at Christie's Worst Old Masters Sale Since 2002).

The sale totaled $57 million, as compared with an overall presale estimate of $54–77.6 million. Of 104 lots offered, 73 (or 70 percent) found buyers. The stronger sold-by-value rate, 78 percent, reflected spirited bidding on a few key lots.

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A painting sold last year for £3,500 has gone back on the market for £2million after it was revealed by experts to be by celebrated British artist John Constable.

Christie's of London, the auctioneers, thought a fan had painted the study of Salisbury Cathedral in homage to Constable's famous 1831 work and valued it at just £500.

A collector bought it for £3,500 in June 2013 - but, after taking a closer look, suspected the original artwork had been painted over.

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Nearly £45 million-worth of art has been left to the nation in the last year, including masterpieces by Van Gogh, Van Dyck and Constable, and the personal collection of Lucien Freud.

A report published by Arts Council England revealed the details of 27 gifts offered by private owners to the British public collections, with a total value of £44.3 million.

The sum is double the value of artworks offered to the nation a decade ago, and is the result of the Acceptance in Lieu scheme which allows owners to use important artworks to pay inheritance tax.

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The Ashmolean has acquired a painting by John Constable, RA (1776–1837) which has been accepted by the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. "Willy Lott’s House from the Stour (The Valley Farm)" was painted in c. 1816–18 and is the first finished work by Constable to enter the Ashmolean’s collection.

The picture shows one of the artist’s most personal subjects, which appeared in his work throughout his life from 1802 until it reached its final form in "The Valley Farm," exhibited in 1835 (now at Tate). The farm building is also seen from a different angle in "The Hay Wain," painted 1821 and now at the National Gallery.

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014 12:34

A Look at the V&A’s John Constable Show

If I tell you John Constable’s reputation is on the up, your response may be that it hardly needs raising. The Suffolk-raised, Hampstead-dwelling painter has spent much of the past 200 years as Britain’s Favorite Artist, with iconic works such as "Flatford Mill" and "The Haywain" seen as the embodiment of a humane, unfussy approach to the mellow English landscape that every British person - okay, every English person -regards as their birth right.

At the same time, however, critics have come to see Constable as the epitome of dentists’ waiting room art: stolid, cliched, even a touch philistine in its apparent lack of interest in anything other than the trees and sky that were actually in front of him.

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The most spectacular artistic rivalry in British history will be revived in September when blockbuster exhibitions by two of the nation's most renowned painters pitch them into direct competition, just as they were in their lifetimes two centuries ago.

The simultaneous shows unavoidably provoke the question asked ever since the artists were showing side by side in the Romantic age: who is the greatest British painter ever?

Is it Joseph Mallord William Turner, whose glowing, occasionally abstract, visions of sea and sky and the violent elements are celebrated at Tate Britain from 10 September? Or is it his contemporary John Constable, whose acute observations of the clouds, trees and changing light of his native Suffolk are examined at the V&A 10 days later?

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