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Creator:
John Constable, 1776–1837, British
Title:

Borrowdale: Evening after a Fine Day, 1 October 1806

Additional Title(s):

View in Borrowdale

Date:
1806
Medium:
Watercolor over graphite with scratching out on medium, slightly textured, beige wove paper
Dimensions:
Sheet: 7 × 10 1/2 inches (17.8 × 26.7 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

Inscribed in artist's hand in graphite, verso, lower left: "Borrowdale 1 Octr.1806 - Evening after a fine day."

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1975.4.1070
Classification:
Drawings & Watercolors
Collection:
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
day | evening | lake | landscape | mountains | trees
Associated Places:
Borrowdale | Cumbria | Derwent | England | Europe | Lake District | United Kingdom
Access:
View by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: The Study Room is open by appointment. Please visit the Study Room page on our website for more details.
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:8048
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In September 1806 Constable left his home at East Bergholt for a two-month tour of the Lake District. Hitherto his landscapes had attracted no attention in the London exhibitions, and this discouraging fact probably induced him to make the journey north, since views of the Lakes were almost certain to be noticed. By the end of September Constable was sketching at Borrowdale, where he spent three weeks making numerous somber watercolor studies such as this. Typically his focus was on transitory weather conditions, the inscription on the back of this drawing noting the date, "1 October 1806," with the added detail that it was made in the "Evening after a fine day."

Gallery label for Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2008-06-09 - 2008-08-17)
By the end of September, Constable was sketching at Borrowdale and spent three weeks there, making numerous watercolour studies. This view of Borrowdale is inscribed "1 Octr 1806" and gives the added detail that it was made in the "Evening after a fine day." Once again, the focus is on transitory atmospheric conditions, but his "natural painture" remains a blend of direct observation and of seeing through the eyes of the earlier artists. Here there are parallels with the watercolor technique of Thomas Gainsborough (cat. nos. 7-8), a fellow Suffolk artist who exerted a great influence on the young Constable. The almost monochromatic palette, bright highlights on the water and dark tonality all suggest first-hand knowledge of Gainsborough's drawings, which he could have studied in Beaumont's collection. On the authority of C. R. Leslie, it is also customary to associate these early watercolors with those of Thomas Girtin. Beaumont encouraged Constable to study his collection of Girtins, but the similarities between the two arists here are fairly slight. Aside from following Girtin's example of using a wet brush loaded with pigment, Constable's studies are far less fastidious than Girtin's, although admittedly Girtin was making finished watercolors and Constable only sketches. But the two were separated by Constable's concern to expunge all artifice, manner, or "fashion" from his technique in pursuit of a "natural painture." However, his exertions proved a commercial failure. Although these sketches and studies were used to make finished Lake District views exhibited with Royal Academy until 1809, his work continued to received little or no attention from the critics.

Matthew Hargraves

Hargraves, Matthew, and Scott Wilcox. Great British Watercolors: from the Paul Mellon collection. New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 2008, pp. 120-121, no. 51

Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2008-06-09 - 2008-08-17) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (The State Hermitage Museum, 2007-10-23 - 2008-01-13) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2007-07-11 - 2007-09-30) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Fairest Isle - The Appreciation of British Scenery 1750-1850 (Yale Center for British Art, 1989-04-12 - 1989-06-25) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Oil on Water - Oil Sketches by British Watercolorists (Yale Center for British Art, 1986-08-26 - 1986-11-09) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

English Landscape (Paul Mellon Collection) 1630-1850 (Yale Center for British Art, 1977-04-19 - 1977-07-17) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Malcolm Cormack, Oil on water, oil sketches by British watercolorists , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1986, p. 19, fig. 6, ND467 C67 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Graham Reynolds, The early paintings and drawings of John Constable, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, 1996, p.102 (v.1), no. 6.210, pl. 584 [v.2], NJ18 C74 R484 1996 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Duncan Robinson, Fairest isle, the appreciation of British scenery, 1750-1850 : Yale Center for British Art, April 12-June 25, 1989. , Yale Center for British Art, [New Haven, 1989, p. 5, no. 19, ND1354.4 F35 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christopher White, English landscape, 1630-1850, drawings, prints & books from the Paul Mellon Collection , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1977, p. 86, no. 155, pl. CXXXIV, NC228 W45 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Yale Center for British Art, Great British watercolors : from the Paul Mellon Collection, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2007, pp. 120-21, no. 51, ND1928 .Y35 2007 (LC)+ Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]


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