Constable Gift Writes Off £1m Tax Bill

Detail from John Constable's Willy Lott’s House from the Stour (The Valley Farm) (1816–18). Photograph: Ashmolean Museum Photo Studio
Detail from John Constable's Willy Lott’s House from the Stour (The Valley Farm) (1816–18) Photograph: Ashmolean Museum Photo Studio

John Constanble’s landscape Willy Lott’s House from the Stour (The Valley Farm) (1816-18) has been donated to the nation via the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, the BBC reports. The bequeath settles a £1,012,200 inheritance tax bill.

The piece will head to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, where it will complement four Constable oil sketches already in the institution’s collection.

Talking to the Guardian, the museum director Dr. Alexander Sturgis said: “It is a huge honor to receive this beautiful painting—the first finished work by Constable to come to the Ashmolean—in my first month as director.”

The work pictures a cottage in the Stour Valley in Suffolk, which was a favorite motif of the artist’s. The building also appears in Constable’s celebrated The Hay Wain (1821), now at London’s National Gallery.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, the chair of Arts Council England, welcomed the donation, declaring: “The AIL scheme has once again delivered a really important acquisition for the nation.”

Owned by Jonathan Peel, the brother of Prime Minister Robert Peel, in the early 19th century, the painting became the first Constable to enter an American collection in 1948 when it was acquired by New York collector James Lennox. The American stint didn’t last. The painting came back to the UK in 1956.


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