Constable found much inspiration on his doorstep in East Bergholt and there is a considerable amount of his work that celebrates this as part of the village’s heritage.
Constable is renowned for his atmospheric paintings of clouds and skies, and there are numerous works of art attributed to East Bergholt depicting clouds during the summertime are likely to have been completed at East Bergholt. Many of these were painted or sketched on East Bergholt Common and Heath. It is probable that his preoccupation with observing the sky and the weather is attributable to his period of working at East Bergholt windmill, as it was essential to observe the skies and forecast the weather closely both to ensure efficiency in keeping the sails trimmed and, importantly, to have warning of impending gales. Describing the painting ‘Spring on East Bergholt Common’ (Plate 4.3) he wrote: ‘The clouds accumulate in very large masses, and from their loftiness seem to move but slowly: immediately upon these large clouds appear numerous opaque patches, which are only small clouds passing rapidly before them, and consisting of isolated portions detached probably from the larger cloud. These floating much nearer to the earth may perhaps fall in with a stronger current of wind, which as well as their comparative lightness causes them to move with greater rapidity; hence they are called by wind-millers and sailors, messengers, and always portend bad weather.
John Constable moved to London in 1799 but returned regularly to East Bergholt where he sketched out of doors in the spring and summer months, typically returning to London to finish and exhibit his canvasses ( the bigger of which were called the ‘6-footers’).