Although hitherto thought to show Hampstead this landscape has now been recognised to be a distant view of Dedham with its church tower, taken from the river just below Flatford Lock. It has also been suggested that the figure is Constable's friend and neighbour the amateur artist J.C. Dunthorne (c.1770-1844) with whom Constable went sketching: Dunthorne, village constable, plumber and glazier, was Constable's earliest tutor and, according to Leslie, 'possessed more intelligence than is often found in the class of life to which he belonged; at that time he devoted all the leisure his business allowed him, to painting landscapes from nature, and Constable became the constant companion of his studies' (C.R. Leslie, Memoirs of the Life of John Constable, Esq., R.A., 2nd ed., 1845, p.4; 1951 ed., p.3).
This up to now unrecorded watercolour is one of a group of Dedham Vale subjects painted on similar sheets of paper, approximately 7¾ x 12in. almost certainly dating from November 1805 (see I. Fleming-Williams, Constable and his Drawings, 1990, pp.48-63, and L. Parris and I. Fleming-Williams, Constable, exhibition catalogue, London, Tate Gallery, June-September 1991, pp.21, 394-6: two examples of this size and style were sold at Sotheby's, 11 November 1993, lots 56-7, repr. in colour).