Many years ago now I was able to inherit a small painting from my grandfather’s quite extensive collection. It was known as ‘The fake Constable’ and so was not appreciated by others, although it greatly amused me and has given me much pleasure.
On re-hanging it recently I noticed some faded writing on the reverse, on the wooden boarding, part of which reads by my son.
There is no escaping that the painting is not the highest quality (!); however, the combination of the original attribution and this short note intrigued me. Is it an early work by a young John Constable that was framed by an adoring parent? Or was it perhaps by one of his sons, with the note from him?
I then, just recently, came across an article on Lionel Constable which explained that until the early 1970s there was no clear distinction between John and Lionel with mis-attributions commonplace. So perhaps grandfather was not defrauded?!
And it went on to explain that Lionel was essentially self taught and copied his father’s style and subjects. This all refreshed my interest and I am hoping someone may be able to offer better clarity.
Photos are attached, of the picture, its back with an old auction label and another of the back where the writing is just, just visible. There does appear to be more writing that is too faint to be legible. The painting’s size is 19½ x 14in (49 x 35cm) with the frame and 10½x 15½in (26.5 x 40cm) without.