John Constable pencil drawings make £187,000 at auction

  • 6 March 2014
  • From the section England
Storm clouds c1815-18
Storm clouds, thought to have been drawn near East Bergholt, fetched £44,000

A collection of previously unknown drawings by the Suffolk artist John Constable, found in a house in Norfolk, have sold for £187,000 at auction.

The seven works, and an eighth by his son Lionel, were bought in 1952 for £500, but went unnoticed until the owners decided to move house.

They were authenticated by fine art auctioneers Cheffins in Cambridge, who valued the collection at up to £60,000.

The drawings sold for three times that to a number of anonymous buyers.

They had initially been valued at between £4,000 and £12,000 each by an expert at the Cambridge auction house.

Horse at rest beside a plough 1816
This tiny drawing made in a pocket-sized sketchbook sold for £42,000

The seven Constable drawings eventually sold for between £9,000 and £44,000 each.

His son's drawing fetched £2,000.

The most expensive lot, Storm Clouds, an 8cm by 12cm (3ins by 5ins) drawing had an estimate of between £6,000 and £8,000.

It is believed to date from between 1815 and 1818 and is thought to show a view near East Bergholt in Suffolk.

Digital screen at auction house
Digital screens monitored the bids as each lot went under the hammer

Constable's picture of a Heavy Horse at rest beside a plough, estimated at the same value, sold for £42,000.

It is believed Constable drew it while on his honeymoon with his wife, Maria.

Auctioneer Jonathan Law, said: " It's been massively exciting. It's gorgeous when you get a collection like this and then it goes so well."

He described the pre-sale interest as "incredible and from the right people".

Flatford Lock with Flatford footbridge and Bridge Cottage in the distance c1805-7
This drawing from the tow path of the river Stour at Flatford sold for £24,000

"On top of that, there are the private buyers and collectors like one of the ladies - who has loved Constable since she was 20 - and I'm not sure how old she is now, but for all her time she's wanted to collect a little sketch.

"It's an attainable value, as opposed to buying the oils which are many millions," he added.

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