Entertainment & Arts

Constable painting donated to the nation

Constable's Willy Lott's House from the Stour (Valley Farm) Image copyright Ashmolean Museum Photo Studio
Image caption Willy Lott's House from the Stour (Valley Farm) Oil on canvas (24in x 20in) was painted c.1816-18

A major painting by John Constable, titled Willy Lott's House from the Stour, has been given to the nation.

It was donated as part of the Acceptance in Lieu scheme to settle a £1,012,200 inheritance tax bill.

The painting, of a cottage in the Stour Valley in Suffolk where the artist spent his childhood, will be displayed at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, chair of Arts Council England, said it was "a really important acquisition for the nation".

The Acceptance in Lieu scheme allows people to pay their inheritance tax bill by transferring important works of art and cultural objects to the nation.

It is the first finished work by Constable to enter the Ashmolean's collection, joining four oil sketches by the artist already on display.

Museum director Dr Alexander Sturgis said it was "a huge honour to receive this beautiful painting".

The cottage depicted in the painting was central to many of Constable's greatest paintings. The same building is seen from a different angle in The Hay Wain.

The painting was at one point owned by Jonathan Peel, younger brother of former Prime Minister Robert Peel.

In 1848 it was acquired by New York collector James Lennox and is believed to be the first work by Constable to enter an American collection. It returned to the UK in 1956.

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