Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd

  • Pencil
  • 4 ½ × 2 ¾ inches · 114 × 54 mm
  • Drawn in 1815


  • John Postle Heseltine (L.1508);
  • J.A. White;
  • Sir Robert Witt (L.2228b);
  • Christies, 22 March 2006, lot 1431;
  • Christie’s, 5 July 2011, lot.141;
  • Private collection, 2018


  • London, The National Trust, 39 Grosvenor Square, W1, Exhibition of British Country Life, 1937, cat. no. 32 (lent by Sir Robert Witt);
  • Oxford, Oxford Arts Club, Richard Wilson and John Constable, Exhibition no. 148, with an introduction by Victor Rienacker, cat.no. 8 (ent by Sir Robert Witt);
  • London, Stafford Gallery, Duke Street, 1939.

This drawing comes from a sketchbook Constable was using in August 1815 when he visited the Suffolk town of Framlingham. The Latter was of topographical and antiquarian interest to the artist as headquarters of Mary Queen of Scots during the attempted insurrection against Queen Elizabeth.

During the particularly fine summer and autumn of 1815 Constable travelled about East Anglia a good deal and spent much time sketching in the open. He wrote to Maria Bicknell on 27 August 1815: ‘I love almost wholly in the fields and see nobody byt the harvest men. The weather has been uncommonly fine though we have jhad some very high winds that have disoncered the foliage a great deal.’[1] Constable made at least three further drawings of Framlingham, specifically studies of the castle; two are at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and one is the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro.[2]

John Constable
Framlingham Castle from the South West, 1815
5 ¼ x 4 ½ inches; 134 x 114mm
© Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge (899.1)

This small, rapidly handled study shows the tower of the church of St. Micheal’s, Framlingham from the south. The study is executed in Constable’s characteristic confident, rapid hatching and is similar in approach to numerous sketches he was making in Suffolk during the summer of 1815.[3] Despite its diminutive scale – the drawing measures just over 2 inches in width – Constable has carefully recorded the profile of the church tower and provided a tonal study of the surrounding vegetation. This drawing was owned by both John Postle Heseltine and Robert Witt, who formed important collections of British drawings.


  1. Ed. R.B. Beckett, Constable and his Drawings, London, 1990, vol.II, p.149. 
  2. Graham Reynolds, The Early Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, New Haven and London, cat nos: 15.17, 15.19 and 15.20.
  3. See for example Graham Reynolds, The Early Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, New Haven and London, cat. no. 15.11.