A pleasant sense of ease and harmony pervades this landscape of almost photographic clarity. The large areas of brilliant sunshine and cool shade, the rambling line of the fence, and the beautiful balance of trees, meadow, and river are evidence of the artist’s creative synthesis of the actual site. The precision of Constable’s brushwork, seen in the animals, birds, and people, lends importance to these smaller details.
Constable was a native of Suffolk, the county just north of Essex. His deep, consuming attachment to the landscape of this rural area is a constant factor in his works. His studies and sketchbooks reveal his complete absorption in the pictorial elements of his native countryside: the movement of cloud masses, the feel of the lowlands crossed by rivers and streams, and the dramatic play of light over all.
The commission for this painting came from Major General Francis Slater–Rebow, owner of Wivenhoe Park, who had been a close friend of Constable’s father and was the artist’s first important patron. This was not the first work Constable had done for the Rebows; in 1812 he had painted a full–length portrait of the couple’s daughter, then aged seven. She can be seen in this painting riding in a donkey cart at the left.