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
John CONSTABLE | Study of an ash tree

Great Britain 1776 – 1837
Study of an ash tree 21 June 1823
25.9 (h) x 17.0 (w) cm
inscribed and dated 'Hampstead June 21. 1823. longest day. 9 o clock Evening. Ash' upside-down along the top
British Museum, London, gift of Isabel Constable in 1888
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During the summer of 1823 Constable rented a house in Hampstead. He admired trees and made many studies of them, always noting their specific shapes and varying foliage. In this drawing he defined the particularities of an ash tree at a given moment and at a specific location – at 9 am, in summer, at Hampstead. He combined his intense feeling for the tree with an accuracy of observation, depicting the tree trunk, branches and leaves, as well as capturing the air between the leaves and the wind passing through.

His friend and biographer C.R. Leslie wrote of Constable’s love of trees, and of the ash in particular:

I have seen him admire a fine tree with an ecstasy of delight like that with which he would catch up a beautiful child in his arms.  The ash was his favourite, and all who are acquainted with his pictures cannot fail to have observed how frequently it is introduced as a near object, and how beautifully its distinguishing peculiarities are marked’ (Leslie (1843/45) 1951, p. 282).

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