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Rare portrait of John Constable’s great love goes to auction

Sketch believed to depict Maria Constable (Chiswick Auctions)
Sketch believed to depict Maria Constable (Chiswick Auctions)

Rediscovered works by painter John Constable are going on sale, including one portrait of “the love of his life”.

The Suffolk pioneer of painting was famed for landscapes such as The Hay Wain which captured the British countryside.

Less known for his portraiture, an image unseen for seven decades has been unearthed which captures his wife Maria.

He would sketch his great love as a keep-sake to remind him of her when he travelled.

This rare and personal portrait is estimated to fetch up to £12,000 when it is offered for sale by Chiswick Auctions.

It will go under the hammer along with a portrait of the artist’s uncle worth £50,000 which has not been seen in public for almost 70 years, and sketched landscape worth £8,000, undisplayed since the 1940s.

Experts have said the portraiture of Constable offers a glimpse into his loving family life, which was hit by tragedy when his wife succumbed to tuberculosis in 1828.

Portrait believed to depict Constable’s uncle. (Chiswick Auctions)

Suzanne Zack, art expert at Chiswick Auctions, told the Press Association: “Constable always been regarded as one of the greatest painters Britain has ever had.”

On his wife she added: “She really was the love of his life.

“There would never be anyone else in his life. He made these sketches of her when he wasn’t with her, to remind him of her.

“These are so personal. You can feel an intimacy.”

Constable’s reputation largely stems from his pastoral scenes of England, which experts believe influenced the later French Impressionists.

A landscape sketch is also going to auction. (Chiswick Auctions)

One recently unearthed work, A Portrait Of A Gentleman, is thought to depict the painter’s uncle Abram Constable.

Along with the portrait of his wife, it was part of a collection former by RB Beckett, who edited eight volumes of Constable’s letters.

A landscape lengthily titled A River Landscape: A Group Of Tall Trees On The Left, A Bend Of The River With Willows On The Far Bank On The Right, In The Background A Hill With A Castle was put forward for verification by private collector, and was found to be by Constable.

Chiswick Auctions will be offering all three rediscovered works for sale on June 19.

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