Flatford Mill from the lock
This study is for a painting of the Mill from the lock exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1812, otherwise known as ‘A watermill’ and now held in a private collection.
During this summer Constable produced a number of variations of this view, each with the same composition.
1811 was an eventful year for Constable, with his mother asking him to paint a watercolour of Bergholt Church for Dr Rhudde (‘East Bergholt Church'), spending March at Epsom for his health, visits and correspondence with Joseph Farington* and Maria leaving for a stay at Bewdley, Worcester with her widowed half-sister.
Constable also visited an old friend, the Bishop of Salisbury, and on that visit grew close to the bishop’s nephew, John Fisher whose correspondence is a significant source on Constable's art as he explains his aims and aspirations, and shows himself to be driven and ambitious.
By the mid part of the year Constable's friends worried about the effects on him of the separation from Maria, and by November/December Maria writes asking him to cease thinking of her and to forget that he ever knew her. He takes a coach to Worcestershire and is well received and on his return their correspondence continues. However at the close of the year his father writes – regrets his too great anxiety to excel and thinks that he makes too serious a matter of the business of painting!
*Joseph Farington, artist who documented his diary into sixteen volumes between 1793 and his death in 1821 which gave in insight into daily life in the London art community and became an invaluable source for this period primarily due to the meticulous recording of events, dinners, weather, and meetings at the Royal Academy.
Currently on show at Huntingdon Library