An image of Landscape with goatherd and goats

John Constable

(England 11 Jun 1776 – 31 Mar 1837)

Landscape with goatherd and goats

15th–19th c European art
Further information

The faithful copying of works of art, usually famous ones, by earlier masters was accepted practice for apprentice painters from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. Considered a vital part of visual education, it often implied homage as well. This is the case with John Constable's loving replication of Claude's 'Landscape with a goatherd and goats'. The English painter took pains to evoke the spirit of his French original, not simply to imitate its surface appearance. Thus the Constable could not be mistaken for the Claude despite adhering to it in every important respect of colouring and composition. The result is an imaginative effort fascinating on its own terms. Constable wrote to his wife, Maria, at the time, 'I have a little Claude in hand, a Grove scene of great beauty and I wish to make a nice copy from it to be useful to me as long as I live... It contains all that I wish to do in landscape'. Seldom in art history has a prophecy of such modesty proven so extravagantly true: Constable went on to redefine the landscape conventions of his period.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.

oil on canvas
53.3 x 44.5 cm stretcher; 65.0 x 58.5 x 10.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of the National Art Collections Fund 1961
Accession number
National Art Collections Fund, pre 27 Jan 1961, London/England, Gift of the National Art Collections Fund 1961
Appleby's, pre 1961, London/England, [dealer] Purchased by the National Art Collections Fund
Pawsey & Payne, post 01 Feb 1924, London/England, [dealer] Purchased from Christie's London, 1 February 1924, lot no.10
Collector unknown, pre 01 Feb 1924, Anon. sale sold Christie's London, 1 February 1924, lot no. 10
P & D Colnaghi and Co, post 23 Jun 1894, London/England, Purchased at Christie's London, 23 June 1894 from Clifford Constable's sale lot no.60
Clifford Constable, pre 23 Jun 1894, England, This work remained in Constable's possession until his death in 1837. It passed to Isobel Constable and from her to Clifford Constable, being sold with his collection at Christie's London, 23 May 1894, lot no. 60.