John Constable’s The Lock listed among most expensive Old Masters

Written on:July 4, 2023
Add One

The Lock had been housed in Madrid's Bornemisza Museum

John Constable’s 1824 painting, The Lock, has become one of the most expensive British paintings ever sold after fetching £22,441,250 in an auction at Christie’s.

The painting, that portrays Suffolk rural life, now shares place with George Stubbs’s Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath, with a Trainer, a Stable-Lad, and a Jockey that fetched the same amount in 2011, as one of the most expensive British paintings ever sold.

Madrid’s Bornemisza Museum had housed the painting and Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza had been the owner. The Baroness, known as Tita, is former Miss Spain and the wife and widow of the Swiss industrialist Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Most of the artworks from the Baron’s huge collection had been sold to Spain. The Baroness still owned 250 artworks that were lent to the country free of charge for the past 13 years.

The Baroness claimed the reason for her selling The Lock was her need for money. “It’s very painful for me, but there was no other way out. I need the money, I really need it. I have no liquidity. Keeping the collection here is costly to me and I get nothing in return,” the Baroness told she told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Baroness Tita’s decision to sell the painting has displeased many. Museum trustee Sir Norman Rosenthal resigned in protest at the sale. He wrote in his resignation letter that the sale “represents a moral shame on the part of all those concerned, most especially on the part of Tita.”

Francesca Von Habsburg, the baroness’s stepdaughter and another museum board member, has also disapproved the sale. “The baroness has shown absolutely no respect for my father and is simply putting her own financial needs above everything else,” she informed the Mail on Sunday.

The Lock’s first owner was James Morrison, one of the wealthiest 19th century British merchants and a prolific art collector, who bought the painting at the 1824 Royal Academy exhibition. His descendants possessed the precious painting till 1990.

2 Comments add one

  1. Old Grit Harry says:

    This painting belongs to Britain. We should demand for it to be sent back.

  2. Philip says:

    Euro crisis forced her to sell the heirloom…pity…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>