Around 1818–19, John Constable began creating large-scale paintings (known as “six-footers”) that were intended for the annual exhibitions at the Royal Academy. The challenges of painting on this monumental scale encouraged him to adopt the unusual practice of creating full-size sketches to guide his work. This is one of those sketches, made for a landscape now in the National Gallery, London, and derived from a small oil study made en plein air in Suffolk in 1811. These full-size sketches were never meant for a public display and reveal Constable working out aspects of his final composition, such as the placement of the standing boy holding a fishing pole. In the final painting, Constable removed the figure, giving the fishing rod to one of the kneeling children on the right.
Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2022