Home > Arts & Culture > The Lock Painting by John Constable Sold for $34.2 Million

The Lock Painting by John Constable Sold for $34.2 Million

By Adrian Prisca


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Enthusiasts of art should definitely take a look at this. One of John Constable’s works, The Lock, measuring 56 x 47 inches (142.2 x 120.7 cm) and painted oil on canvas was sold for £22,441,250 ($34.2 million) at a Christie’s auction in London during this week by an anonymous buyer.

The painting displays rural life in Suffolk, eastern England, and was officially finished in 1824. It is known as the 5th in a famous series of 6 wide paintings of the Stour Valley that Constable exhibited between 1819 and 1825. The huge price tag is actually a premiere on behalf of the English painter, but, by far the most intriguing fact about the sale was the family drama behind the upper-class art sale.

The main character behind the sale, Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, now aged 69, claims to be suffering “liquidity issues”, victim of Spain’s economic crisis and that’s why the auction was organized for the painting housed in Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

As a small history of the painting, we mention that The Lock was bought in 1824 at the Royal Academy exhibition by James Morrison, the son of an innkeeper, who has risen to be one of the wealthiest British merchants in the 19th century and an enthusiastic collector of antiques and modern works. Until 1990, The Lock remained in the possession of Morrison’s descendants.

The fabled lady is the 5th wife of Swiss industrialist Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza and is a former Miss Spain. The Baron passed away in 2002 and has left an incredibly large private art collection behind – The Lock was part of it. Most of the collection was sold to Spain, but, fortunately, a reportedly 250 artworks still belong to the baroness. They  were lent to the country for the past 13 years, free of charge.

The sale was also taken as a thing of  malevolence and disrespect by a member of the baroness’ family and a board member of the museum, the last having resigned from his post. The individual, Sir Norman Rosenthal, the ex-exhibitions director of London’s Royal Academy, considers the act “a moral shame on the part of all those concerned, most especially on the part of Tita” – Tita is the appellative he uses for the Baroness.

In addition, the stepdaughter of the Baroness, Francesca Von Habsburg, and an additional museum board member, declared about the sale: “The baroness has shown absolutely no respect for my father and is simply putting her own financial needs above everything else.”

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About Adrian Prisca

Founder of Luxatic and countless other projects, Adrian has shaped this website into a go-to source for discerning readers looking for the latest in luxury products and experiences. He has over 15 years of experience in creating, managing and publishing lifestyle content across numerous platforms and he’s considered a leading voice in the luxury industry. Learn more about Luxatic's Editorial Process.

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