Dedham Vale

  • About the work
    Country: India
    City: Mumbai
    Place: British Deputy High Commission

    This print, after a work by John Constable, demonstrates the idyllic country landscapes for which the artist is best-known. The work is typically romantic, without overt sentimentality, and unmistakably English.

    Between 1830 and 1832, in an attempt to counter the negative press his work was receiving, Constable published a set of mezzotint engravings of ‘English Landscapes’, engraved by David Lucas and accompanied by explanatory texts. The text recorded that the subjects of all the plates were ‘taken from real places; they are mostly rural, and are meant particularly to characterise the scenery of England.’ When the publication failed to meet with success, Constable wrote to a friend: 'every gleam of sunshine is blighted to me in the art at least. Can it therefore be wondered at that I paint continual storms?'

    The original oil painting of ‘Dedham Vale’ (1828) is now in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. Dedham Vale is the valley of the river Stour, near the town of Dedham, on the border of Suffolk and Essex. Many of the scenes Constable painted were made in the area he was born and raised, around Dedham and East Bergholt in Suffolk, including the infamous ‘Hay Wain’.

  • About the artist
    David Lucas was born in Northamptonshire; the son of a farmer. In 1820 he began an engraving apprenticeship with S. W. Reynolds, moving into Reynolds’ home in Bayswater. By 1829 he was working with John Constable on a series of 22 plates, known as ‘English Landscape’ (published 1830-32), which was produced under Constable’s intense scrutiny. A further six plates were published by F. G. Moon in 1838, after the artist’s death. Lucas also engraved six larger prints after Constable and several prints after works by other artists, including R. Smirke, D. Roberts and T. Girtin. His last project was to rework ‘English Landscape’ for its republication in 1855. Alcoholism plagued his last decades and he died in the Fulham union workhouse, aged 79.
    Born at East Bergholt in Suffolk, John Constable was the son of a miller. He claimed that the Suffolk countryside which surrounded him as a child ‘made him a painter’. In 1806, he visited the Lake District and in 1827 settled in Hampstead. Constable’s paintings ‘The Hay Wain’ and ‘View on the Stour’ were awarded the Gold Medal at the Paris Salon in 1824. The great success of these and other works exhibited in France had a significant effect on the development of the Barbizon School of landscape painters and works of the Romantic Movement. After Constable’s sudden death in 1837, a large collection of his work was bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum by his daughter.
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  • Details
    Dedham Vale
    Purchased from Christie's, 10 December 1954
    Collection of politician (Arthur) Ronald Nall Nall-Cain, 2nd Baron Brocket (1904-1967) of Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire, Bramshill Park in Hampshire, the Knoydart estate in Highland Scotland and the Carton House estate in Ireland; by whom sold through Christie's, London, on 10 December 1954 (Lot 144; with GAC 3097-3099, 3101-3102); from which sale purchased by Agnew’s Gallery, London, on behalf of the Ministry of Works
    GAC number