- Museum number
Study of docks and grasses. 1828
Oil on paper laid on canvas
- Production date
Height: 152 millimetres
Width: 241 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This is one of two extant studies of plants with inscriptions dating them to Constable's final stay in Brighton in the summer of 1828. His wife Maria, who was to die later that year in 23 November, was now gravely ill. The day before painting 1919-4-15-6, 23 July 1828, Constable had written to his friend James Carpenter, 'I am here accompanied (with my Easil) attending a very sick wife and afflicted child. Brighton has done them very little good, but we have had most untoward weather' (Correspondence IV, p. 139). Constable is likely to have brought the plants into the house, in order to use the time profitably while he was unable to work out of doors. W.P. Frith later recounted a visit to Constable's London studio around 1835-37 when he found him engaged in painting studies of plant specimens ('My autobiography and reminiscences' 1887-8, III, pp. 318-319, quoted Reynolds, 'The later paintings and drawings of John Constable', p.196). Frith records Constable saying, 'See those weeds and the dock leaves? They are to come in the foreground of this picture. I know dock-leaves pretty well, but I should not attempt to introduce them into a picture without having them before me'.
Another study of foliage, of similar dimensions to 1919-4-15-6 and damaged along the edges in a similar fashion is in the Victoria & Albert Museum (338-1888; R28.24). It was probably painted around the same time as the two British Museum studies, and shares features of each of them: the close attention to light falling on the curling leaves of 1919-4-15-6 and introduction of lightly sketched grass stems found in 1919-4-15-4.
The provenance of 1919-4-15-6 cannot be established exactly. Reynolds has presumed that either this or 1919-4-15-4 was the work from the collection of Isabel Constable sold at Christie's 17 June 1892 (lot 242) as 'Study of weeds Brighton July 1828', as these are the only two works of this description now known. Either one or the other of these items may have formed part of a later sale, that of Eustace Constable, at Christie's on 16 April 1896, where lot 76, comprising five studies of flowers, was bought by A. Smith, presumably a relative of the donor.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1976 Feb-May, London, Tate Gallery, 'Constable', no. 257
2002-2003 Oct-Jan, Paris, Grand Palais, 'Constable', no. 96
2013, Feb-May, Madrid, Thyssen-Bornemisza, 'Open Air Painting'
2017 Apr-Nov, Brighton, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, 'Constable in Brighton'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- See Reynolds for provenance
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number