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John Constable's The Lock to be Sold at Auction - RowlandsModernArt.com : RowlandsModernArt.com
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John Constable’s The Lock to be Sold at Auction

| May 30, 2012 | Comments

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John Constable’s The Lock to be sold at Auction owner Spanish Baroness ‘struggling with cash’ hopes Constable painting will net her £25MILLION

John Constable‘s celebrated depiction of Suffolk rural life, The Lock, is to be offered for sale at Christie’s in July where it could easily become one of the most expensive British paintings to be sold at auction.

 

The auction house said it was to sell the only one of Constable’s Stour series – which includes The Hay Wain in the National Gallery – that remains in private hands.

Jussi Pylkkänen, president of Christie’s Europe, said The Lock was “one of John Constable’s greatest paintings and an outstanding masterpiece of British art”. He added: “This superb landscape, coming from the same series as The Hay Wain, represents British landscape painting at its very best and is sure to attract bidding from museums and collectors from all over the world.”

UK museums are unlikely to have deep enough pockets for a work that, when it was bought at auction in 1990, set a record for a British work of art. It was bought for £10.8m and held the record until 2006 when a view of Venice by Turner, Constable’s rival, sold for £20.5m at Christie’s in New York. Another Turner sold for £29m at Sotheby’s in London in 2010.

The current record is considered to be held by a 1976 Francis Bacon triptych, which was bought by Roman Abramovich for £43m at Sotheby’s in New York in 2008, although there is a debate about what counts as a British painting given Bacon was born in Dublin.

Christie’s has put an estimate of £20-25m on The Lock, which is being sold by Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, a former Miss Spain who represents one of Europe’s greatest art-collecting families. It has been on display at the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum in Madrid and the family says its sale will safeguard the future of the private collection and allow loans of other paintings to the museum.

The sale has not been without controversy. Thyssen-Bornemisza’s stepdaughter, Francesca Habsburg, wrote a letter to El Pais last year in which she called her stepmother “unreasonable, and completely isolated from reality”.

The Lock is one of six paintings that make up he Stour series of large-scale rural works that Constable exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1819 and 1825. After its exhibition in 1824, the Morning Post art critic wrote: “Mr Constable contributes a landscape composition which for depth, sparkling light, freshness and vigorous effect exceeds any of his works.”

Until it went to Spain, The Lock had remained in the possession of the family of its first owner, the businessman and collector James Morrison.

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