DETAIL: John CONSTABLE,  Great Britain 1776 � 1837  'Harwich Lighthouse' c.1820 oil on canvas Tate, London, gift of Maria Louisa Constable, Isabel Constable and Lionel Bicknell Constable in 1888 Tate, London 2005
David LUCAS | Autumnal sunset

LUCAS, David, Artist
Great Britain 1802 – 1881
CONSTABLE, John, Artist
Great Britain 1776 – 1837
Autumnal sunset
for English Landscape, part V, July 1832 c.1829-32
mezzotint, drypoint
undescribed progress proof
plate 17.6 (h) x 25.2 (w) cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, Felton Bequest in 1970
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Lucas based this mezzotint on the oil sketch, Autumnal sunset c.1812   . Constable decided to include this subject in English Landscape after talking to C.R. Leslie on 14 September 1829. The next day he wrote to Lucas: ‘we have agreed on a long landscape (Evening with  a flight of rookes), as a companion to the “Spring”’ (Beckett IV, p. 322).

Lucas had already begun work on the plate in March 1830 when Constable was anxious to see a first proof of it (Beckett IV, p. 326), but it was not published until July 1832. During the proofing the sky was reworked, a line of low-lying clouds added, a tree on the left and corn stooks and stubble in the foreground field were introduced. The towers of Langham Church and Stoke-by-Nayland Church were also added.  On 2 June 1832 Constable wrote to Lucas, criticising his poor transcription of the flight of rooks:

the Evng – is spoiled owing to your having fooled with the Rooks – they were the chief feature – which caused me to adopt the subject – nobody knew what they are – but took them for blemishes on the plate (Beckett IV, p. 376).

Lucas subsequently reworked the image to Constable’s satisfaction.

In the list of contents for English Landscape this print was called Sunset. Peasants returning homeward.

Shirley describes six progress proofs (a–e), whereas Harold Wright describes this one as ‘h’: we are therefore recording it as ‘undescribed’.

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