Constable painted several oil sketches of the view towardsEast Bergholt rectory, showing the fields where he walked with his beloved Maria Bicknell. He painted this lively impression of the rising sun glowing over and through the fields from an upper floor window at the back of his family home. His response to the scene is expressed through energetic brushstrokes and the use of intense reds and greens – the expanded chromatic range that Constable was using in his oil sketches at this time (Rosenthal 1983, p. 45).
Constable’s description of East Bergholt appeared in the letterpress to the second edition of Lucas–Constable mezzotints, English Landscape:
East Bergholt, or as its Saxon derivation implies, ‘Wooded Hill’, is thus mentioned in ‘The Beauties of England and Wales’ … It is pleasantly situated in the most cultivated part of Suffolk, on a spot which overlooks the fertile valley of the Stour, which river divides that county on the south from Essex.
The beauty of the surrounding scenery, the gentle declivities, the luxuriant meadow flats sprinkled with flocks and herds, and well cultivated uplands, the woods and rivers, the numerous scattered villages and churches, with farms and picturesque cottages, all impart to this particular spot an amenity and elegance hardly anywhere else to be found (Beckett, Discourses, pp. 12-–13).
East Bergholt is now a twin town with the village of Barbizon, in the Forest of Fontainebleau, France. Given that East Bergholt was Constable’s birthplace, and that his work was much admired by Eugène Delacroix, Paul Huet, Jules Dupré, Théodore Rousseau and other artists associated with the area around Barbizon, this is a most appropriate association.