Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza assembled, with his wife, Carmen, one of the most remarkable collections in Europe formed after the Second World War. Their collection is now on view in @museothyssen. He acquired this masterpiece by John Constable, The Lock, in 1990, at @Sothebys where it set a world record for the artist, selling for over £10.7 million. Nicholas Hall was then closely involved with its subsequent sale at @ChristiesInc in 2012 for a new world record price of £22,441,250.
Baron Thyssen lived for a long time at Warren Hastings’ house, Daylesford in Gloucestershire. On one of his frequent visits to @Colnaghi1760 we tried to interest him, unsuccessfully, in a Stubbs Portrait of Warren Hastings on Horseback. He did, however, buy numerous other Old Masters by artists such as El Greco, Rembrandt, Saenredam, and Canaletto. In doing this he was building on a collection already formed by his father which included masterpieces by Durer, Memling, Holbein, and Caravaggio among others. However, the Baron amplified the Old Master collection with the finest group of classical American paintings in Europe as well as Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, Expressionists and Post War art.
When Baron Thyssen bought Old Masters they were often with a modern slant. The Canaletto is an impressionistic early work, the Saenredam has an austerity which feels minimalist. Constable too is hailed as a father of the modern landscape and a key influence on the Impressionists and beyond. He was one of Lucien Freud’s favorite painters who said of him “I may be quite wrong, but I can't see Van Gogh's Boots without Constable behind them.” The Lock is one of only nine finished ‘Six-footers’ as Constable’s @royalacademyarts presentation pieces were known. It is the only one in private hands. A magnificent full-scale sketch was recently sold at @ChristiesInc for £14 million, only one bid above the reserve. It is a curious fact that, despite Constable’s art-historical importance, his works do not attract as much competitive bidding at auction as they deserve.
Image: #JohnConstable, R.A. (British, 1776-1837), The Lock, oil on canvas, 56 x 47½ in.