Date published: Monday 5 June 2023
Colchester Museums are now the proud owners of a stunning pencil drawing of St Botolph’s Priory by renowned landscape artist John Constable, thanks to the generosity of the Friends of Colchester Museums who funded its purchase from London auctioneers Rosebys. The drawing is dated 19 September 1808 and will now join several other Constable sketches in the museum's collections, including a second view of the Priory and another of Colchester Castle.
Only recently recognised as a work by Constable, the drawing of the Priory is taken from a slightly different viewpoint to that already in the museum’s collections and together they form an important visual record of one of Colchester’s most famous historic buildings as it was at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
St Botolph’s Priory is an outstanding example of Norman architecture. It was the first English Augustinian priory church, founded at the end of the eleventh century and was badly damaged in the Siege of Colchester, during the English Civil War. Today, just as Constable sketched it, only the ruined remains of the nave of the priory’s church survive.
Councillor Michelle Burrows, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Heritage said: “St Botolph’s Priory is an important heritage destination for thousands of visitors each year. To be able to add this remarkable drawing to our extensive collection of Colchester’s heritage is wonderful, and one that we will cherish.”
Raymond Cantrell, Chair of the Friends of Colchester Museums said: “The funds to purchase the sketch came from The Friends of Colchester Museums. It was the daughter of Angela Hammond, who is a member of the Friends, who brought the availability of the sketch to her mother. She told Peter Evans, the Treasurer, who notified the committee and it was agreed that if the Museum wanted the item the Friends would pay for it. One of our main aims is to help the Museum to obtain worthwhile acquisitions and we are very pleased to have been able to help with obtaining this historic work.”
Lara L’vov-Basirov, Head of Sale, Old Master, British & European Pictures comments: “Roseberys are absolutely thrilled that this highly important, re-discovered work on paper by Constable is returning home to Colchester.”