'This place was the origin of my fame'. So, towards the end of his life, declared Constable of his birthplace, East Bergholt House. Used in his work more often as a vantage point than a subject, the house held a central position in Constable's deep affection for the area.
Golding Constable, the artist's father and a successful miller, built East Bergholt House when Flatford Mill became too small for his growing family. John Constable, the fourth child, was born there on 11 June 1776, two years after the house was completed. This view of the back of the house is taken from land owned by Golding Constable, who acquired over thirty acres of 'pasture and arrable', stretching almost across to the Rectory, where Maria Bicknell, John's future wife, stayed when visiting her grandfather, Dr. Rhudde. The fields in between were not only Constable's playground as a child, but were also the setting for the young couple's courtship. The Constable family sold East Bergholt House after Golding's death, and it was pulled down circa 1840. All that remains is the stable block (seen to the right of the house in the present picture) and another outbuilding.
This work belongs to a small group of oil paintings and drawings Constable executed showing this aspect of East Bergholt House, mostly dating from 1809-11. The perspective - almost square-on to the house - is very similar to a view in the Mellon Collection, Yale Center for British Art (5¾ x 10 in., taken a little closer to the house), and a work in the Tate Britain (8 7/8 x 27 in., from slightly further back). A view in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (7 1/8 x 19 7/8 in.) is presumably taken from close to the avenue of trees shown in the present work, and looks across to St. Mary's Church. This present work was probably executed largely en plein air, and shows the house at a similar distance to Malvern Hall (Tate Britain, London) of 1809 and exactly the same size.