John Constable: Artist's sketch of wife to go under the hammer

Sketch of Maria Constable Image copyright Chiswick Auctions
Image caption John Constable would sketch his wife Maria to remind himself of her when he was travelling

A rare portrait by painter John Constable of the "love of his life" is to go on sale more than 70 years since it was last seen in public.

The artist, famed for landscapes such as The Hay Wain, sketched his wife Maria Elizabeth Bicknell as a keepsake while he travelled.

The pencil drawing is believed to have been drawn shortly before her death from tuberculosis in 1828.

It is expected to fetch up to £12,000 when it goes on sale in June.

It will go under the hammer alongside a portrait of the artist's uncle, Abram Constable, which is valued at £50,000.

Both works come from the collection of the late art historian Ronald Brymer Beckett, who edited Constable's letters.

Image copyright Chiswick Auctions
Image caption A portrait of Constable's uncle Abram is valued at £50,000

A third work to be sold is a sketched landscape worth £8,000 which has not been on display since the 1940s. It was put forward for verification by a private collector and found to be by Constable.

Experts have suggested the castle in the background may be Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, which is 30 miles from Constable's Suffolk home at East Bergholt.

Suzanne Zack, art expert at Chiswick Auctions, said the portraits had a "personal significance" to the painter.

Ms Zack said Maria "really was the love of [Constable's] life", adding: "There would never be anyone else in his life.

"He made these sketches of her when he wasn't with her, to remind him of her.

"These are so personal. You can feel an intimacy."

Chiswick Auctions will be offering all three rediscovered works for sale on 19 June.

Image copyright Chiswick Auctions
Image caption This river landscape is expected to fetch up to £8,000 at auction

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