Explorations in the footsteps of Turner, Cotman and Ruskin with Professor David Hill
Recently a reader sent me a photograph of a proof impression of Constable’s ‘Summerland’. This turns out to be a distinct and hitherto unrecorded progress proof made sometime between an impression at the Metropolitan Museum, New York and one at the V&A, London. I discussed this part of the sequence in the article ‘John Constable, David Lucas and ‘A Summerland’: Part #3 – The Progress Proofs [d]‘, which first appeared on 22 October 2018.
In my article I numbered the Metropolitan Museum impression d (ii) and the V&A proof d (iii), so I have decided to number the new proof d(iib). I have revised the original article to incorporate a discussion of the new proof in the sequence.
Apart from new work to the sky that builds upon that begun in the Metropolitan Museum impression, the distinctive introduction in the newly-identified state is a tiny, distant tower on the horizon about two thirds of the way across.
It might be a small detail but it adds greatly to the composition by pulling the eye into the furthest distance, and by so doing renders sublimity to the pictorial space. It does not, however, figure in either version of the composition in oils. Nonetheless, it remains tantalisingly possible that this detail might be grounded in observable fact for there is a mark in the original sketch that might indicate a church tower on that bearing. Looking at the maps, the line of sight leads directly to the tower of Great Henny church some 12.9 miles distant. All this makes me look forward to Spring and a window of good weather when I might make make my promised site visit. It will be quite something if Great Henny church can actually be seen from this viewpoint.