Constable, who often spent the summers in the country and the winters in London, spent the entire winter of 1815-16 in East Bergholt with his dying father making only occasional visits to London. In letters to his fiancée, Maria Bicknell, he described being able to work outdoors throughout the autumn. This study of a donkey can be compared to a similar oil-sketch of two donkeys, dated 'Feby 29. 1816' in the Philadelphia Museum of Art which has recently been rediscovered as a work by the artist (see J. A. Thompson, 'A rediscovered oil-sketch by John Constable', The Burlington Magazine, CLXVII, September 2005, pp. 608-612). Donkeys can be found in several of Constable's paintings and as Thompson (op.cit.) points out the precise arrangement of the donkeys in the Philadelphia sketch occurs in three landscapes The Edge of the Wood (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto),Hampstead Heath (Fitzwilliam, Cambridge) and Stoke-by-Nayland (Art Institute of Chicago). Such sketches are evidence of the extent to which Constable made careful studies to which he referred constantly when executing his paintings. We are grateful Conall Shields for the suggestion that Constable may have referred to the present sketch when executing his oil sketch of Flatford Mill which shows a horse or possibly a donkey on a similarly inclined piece of ground beside the towpath in the middle distance (private collection; see G. Reynolds, The Early Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, New Haven and London, 1984, I, p. 234, no. 16.111 and II, pl. 1369). In the finished composition of this subject, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1817, Constable eliminated this element of detail in favour of a man with a dog (London, Tate Britain, Reynolds, op.cit., I, no. 17.1, II, pl. 5).