The present picture is a copy of John Constable's View on the Stour near Dedham which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1822 (now in the Henry E. Huntington Libary and Art Gallery, San Marino, G. Reynolds, The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, I, 22.1, II, pl. 344). The picture shows the stretch of the River Stour immediately upstream from Flatford Mill and Lock with Flatford Bridge and Bridge Cottage. The two central barges are about to enter the lock to continue their journey downstream while the left-hand barge moving downstream has just passed through the lock.
Frederick Waters Watts was very much influenced by the work of Constable and Watts is known to have made at least two direct copies of pictures by Constable, The Leaping Horse and The Cornfield. The artists' work has in the past sometimes been confused. Confusion began in Constable's own lifetime when Helminham Dell came up at auction and was bought for a derisory fifty shillings owing to doubt about its authenticity, Constable wrote to Charles Boner explaining the sitution, 'I have seen many who were in the room and it was considered by Watts's, and at least not certain, if mine' (R.B. Becket, ed., John Constable's Correspondence, V, p.164). It is, however, unlikely that Watts was ever a pupil of Constable and as far as is known, he did not paint in Suffolk, although the two may have met or compared pictures at the Royal Academy. Constable's View on the Stour near Dedham was exhibited three times; in 1822 (183) at the Royal Academy, the following year at the British Institution (35) and then at the Salon in Paris in 1824 (359). It is possible that Watts was able to study the picture while it was on exhibition.