Lost 220-year-old sketch by John Constable found in an old suitcase could fetch more than £3,000 at auction
A forgotten 220-year-old sketch drawn by John Constable found tucked away in an old suitcase during a house clearance could fetch more than £3,000 when it goes under the hammer.
The pencil drawing was created by the artist of Dover in Kent including the castle on top of the iconic White Cliffs.
It is one of a series of sketches Constable made in April 1803 when he spent almost a month on board the Coutts as the ship worked its way along the coast from London to Deal before departing for China.
It was found during a house clearance in Leeds and the late owners of the property had seemingly failed to recognise that their unsigned picture was a genuine long-lost Constable.
Dominic Cox of auctioneers David Duggleby, based in Scarborough, said: ‘Thanks to a letter that Constable sent to a friend we know that the sketch was done on the last day of the trip.
Dominic Cox of auctioneers David Duggleby, based in Scarborough, pictured
The forgotten 220-year-old sketch drawn by John Constable found tucked away in an old suitcase
‘He wrote “I came on shore at Deal, walked to Dover (about one and a half hours) and the next day returned to London”.
‘It’s thought that Constable made as many as 130 drawings on the voyage but the whereabouts of less than 50 are known today.
‘Actually, it was only by the greatest good fortune that any of them survived.
‘Constable had to get off the ship in a hurry when the decision to depart for China was taken and he left his carefully wrapped parcel of drawings behind. Fortunately they were recovered before they ended up in the Far East.’
He added: ‘The sketch is a detailed view across the water of Dover harbour towards the waterfront buildings, with the Castle high above the town and the cliffs stretching away into the distance. The location is identified at the bottom right and the year is lightly marked in the sky top right.
‘The backing of the framed drawing bears the label of The Little Gallery of Kensington Church Walk in London, a gallery that was in business in the early 1970s and specialised in the sketches and drawings of big name artists that were far more readily available at that period than they are today.
It is one of a series of sketches Constable made in April 1803 when he spent almost a month on board the Coutts
‘Their label is inscribed in ink ‘John Constable (1776-1837), Dover, circa 1803, pencil’.
‘The glass was smashed when the drawing was found in the suitcase during the house clearance so the drawing was removed from the frame whilst repairs were made and it was then discovered that the back of the drawing itself is inscribed J Constable.’
The piece will go up for auction this Friday at David Duggleby in Scarborough.
The pre-sale estimate for the Dover sketch is between £2,000 and £3,000.