This charming engraving by David Lucas (1802-1881) is after a well-loved rural scene by John Constable (1776-1837) titled ‘The Lock’. It’s finely rendered and was initially commissioned by Constable for a book, ‘Various Subjects of Landscape, Characteristic of English Scenery’, first published in 1830.
It depicts a figure using all his force to open the mechanism of a lock while a fellow boatman waits in a barge. In the distance, Dedham Church cuts above the horizon, a reminder that we’re in ‘Constable Country’, where the drifting fields and endless skies provide a constant source of inspiration.
The Lock was one of Constable’s ‘six-footer’ series, exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1819 and 1825. These were monumental, not only in terms of scale but also with regards to the artist’s notoriety. At the time, landscape painting was seen as a second-rate endeavour but his expansive views across the British countryside were simply too large to glance over. His six-footers captured the gaze of critics and stirred their imaginations. From this point on, he was truly on the map.
The engravings by Lucas are finely done and bring their own monochrome mood. In many ways, they’re more atmospheric than the originals due to their lack of colour. They feel akin to an engraving after an old master three centuries earlier. And perhaps, as we look back, this is an appropriate comparison for an artist that we consider a master of the British idyll.
Housed within a later frame.
Learn more about David Lucas and John Constable in our directory.
Medium: Engraving on paper
Overall size: 29½” x 35” / 75cm x 89cm
Year of creation: c. 1834
Condition: Artwork presents well. Frame with some light wear.