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Sketch for "A Boat Passing a Lock"

Sketch for the painting in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid

John Constable, English, 1776 - 1837

Made in Great Britain, Europe


Oil on canvas

55 1/2 × 48 inches (141 × 121.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 392, European Art 1500-1850, third floor (Haas Gallery)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The John Howard McFadden Collection, 1928

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On the far right a barge waits for the sluice gates to open and lower the water level. The navigator, in a red waistcoat, has just put down his fishing pole to work the lock. In a letter to a friend the artist expressed his enthusiasm for this kind of subject: "The sound of water escaping from Mill dams . . . Willows, Old rotten Banks, slimy posts, & brickwork. I love such things. . . . As long as I do paint I shall never cease to paint such Places." This is a preliminary version of a painting that, exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1824, became Constable's most popular work up to that time.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.