This view, from the house in which Constable was born, was an emotive subject for the artist, for in 1809 he had declared his love to Maria Bicknell during one of her visits to her grandfather, Dr. Rhudde, Rector of East Bergholt. In the summer of 1812 he wrote to her:
'From the window where I am now writing I see all those sweet feilds where we have passed so many happy hours together - it is with a melancholy pleasure that I revisit those scenes that once saw us so happy - yet it is gratifying to me to think that the scenes of my boyish days should have witnessed by far the most affecting event of my life' (R.B. Becket, John Constable's Correspondence, II, 1964, p.78).
In September 1814 he again focused on this theme to Maria:
'I can hardly tell you what I feel at the sight from the window where I am writing of the feilds in which we have so often walked. A beautifull calm autumnal setting sun is glowing upon the gardens of the Rectory and on adjacent feilds where some of the happiest hours of my life were passed' (ibid. p.132).
Perhaps reflecting his long separations from Maria, Constable often painted scenes which included the Rectory and the small valley between it and Golding Constable's house. Of these, there are perhaps three works immediately comparable to the present picture. The earliest, showing a little more of the land to the right of the rectory, is dated 20 September 1810 (6 x 9.5/8 in., John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art), and is painted at sunrise, as with a study executed the morning after the present picture, dated '19 Aug 1813' (4 x 5 in., Yale Centre for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven). A third work includes East Bergholt windmill on the left of the horizon and, although not dated, is believed to have also been painted in the summer of 1813 (5.7/8 x 8 in., sold in these Rooms, 11 July 1986, lot 44, 54,000, private collection).
In August 1813, Maria asked the artist which he had thought of most that summer, 'landscape or me' (ibid, p.111). Studying this view, painted that month, one imagines the two subjects may have been inseparable in the artist's mind.
Of the forty-one 'Pictures and Sketches in Oil, Exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery, 1889, as the Property of Miss Isabel Constable' which were included in E. Colquhoun's sale at Christie's in 1891, nineteen were unsold. This picture remained in the Colquhoun family until 1978.