John Constable, 'Old Houses on Harnham Bridge

John Constable, 'Old Houses on Harnham Bridge

John Constable (1776-1837)
'Old Houses on Harnham Bridge, Salisbury'
Great Britain
1821
Pencil and watercolour on a page from a sketchbook
Museum no. 218-1888

In this watercolour you can see the touches of pure white characteristic of Constable’s later oil paintings. These may have been the result of retouching in 1831. On the back, Constable notes that the retouching was done at Hampstead, the day after the coronation of William IV, which he attended, ‘being eleven hours in the abbey’ (!). Compare it with the other drawings of cottages: Cottage at Holton, Cottage at East Bergholt, Cottage at Brantham, With a view of Mistley Hall and Bridge cottage, flatford.

Interestingly, Constable’s grasp of linear perspective is still not brilliant – his real interest is light and dark. Although the watercolour gives more solid blocks of tone than pen or pencil, it is applied with visible diagonal brush strokes, giving it a rather linear quality.

This drawing can be found in Prints and Drawings Study Room box EDUC 15.