A boy paused from thirsty work of herding sheep, lies flat on the bank of cool water next to the cornfield.
The winding lane, that of Fen Lane and which Constable knew well from his childhood that took him to school past the church, along Flatford Lane, passing this spot down Fen Lane, over Fen Bridge and across the meadows to the Grammar School.
Inspired by an earlier piece ‘Cornfield’ 1817, Constable recreated the composition for the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1826 which the artist referred to as ‘The Drinking Boy’.
Whilst the winding Fen lane does exist, the countryside shown beyond seems to have been largely invented.
It was purchased by the Committee of Friends and Admirers and presented to the National Gallery in 1837, making it the first work by Constable to enter the National Collection.