This is the plein air sketch for Constable's exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1832, Sir Richard Steele's Cottage, Hampstead (Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven, Connecticut; Reynolds, op. cit., p. 235, no. 32.6, illustrated pl. 821, see fig.1). The view is taken from what is how Haverstock Hill, looking down Eton Road. Steele's cottage is on the right. Sir Richard Steele (1672-1729), the essayist, dramatist, journalist and Whig politician, chief instigator of and contributor to, with his friend Joseph Addison, the Tatler, 1709-11, and the Spectator, 1711-13, took it as his country cottage in 1712, retiring first to Hereford and then to Carmarthen where he died, in 1724.
The exhibited version of this picture was engraved in mezzotint by David Lucas and published in 1845 as a supplement to his nglish Landscape Scenery (A. Shirley, Mezzotints by David Lucas after Constable, 1930, no. 48). This small oil, 8¼ x 11¼ in. (21 x 28.5 cm.), is at the furthest point in size from Constable's chief exhibit of that year, The Opening of Waterloo Bridge seen from Whitehall Stairs, June 18th 1817, 53 x 86½ in. (134.6 x 219.7 cm.), Tate Britain. (Reynolds, op. cit., pp.233-4, no. 32.1, illustrated in colour pl.819). Reynolds dismisses a larger version of the composition formerly in the collection of Lord Clark as not by Constable.
Reynolds, on the grounds that Constable's views of London from Hampstead more usually include the dome of St. Paul's and the valley of the Thames in the distance after Constable took up residence in Well Walk in 1827, dates our sketch to circa 1827-31. In its loose, nervous handling of paint it is particularly close to such an oil sketch as that for Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows in Tate Britain (Reynolds, op. cit, p. 228, no. 31.5, illustrated in colour pl. 799; the finished painting, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1831, no. 169, is Reynolds no. 31.1, illustrated in colour pl. 792).