Constable drawing

The Trunk of a Tree on the banks of a stream, a drawing by John Constable – £31,000 at Halls.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Offered at Halls of Shrewsbury on December 7 and measuring just 4¾ x 3½in (12 x 9cm), it came from a vendor who had inherited it from a Midlands collector who in turn had bought it at London dealers Agnew’s in 1979.

Unusually, it is dated 20 April 1821 – a day in which he is known through his letters to have been eating hot cross buns while visiting Edward Godfrey, the local squire of East Bergholt.

The fact that it depicts a tree by a river with its roots overhanging the water suggests that it may have come from the same sketchbook in which Constable made other tree studies – including another drawing of a willow stump which also dates from April 1821 at East Bergholt.

In generally sound condition despite some staining and minor blemishes, Halls estimated the sketch at £8000- 12,000 and, after a battle between a private English buyer on the phone and a rival on the internet, it was knocked down to the former.