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Constable and his wife visited Netley Abbey, Hampshire on their honeymoon in 1816. One of the drawings made on that occasion was the basis for this much later watercolour. In character it resembles the designs Constable painted in 1833 to illustrate an edition of Gray's 'Elegy'. He may even have considered using this Netley composition for that work: the figure at the left contemplating a tombstone (a detail not in the original pencil drawing) is a stock motif in all illustrations of the 'Elegy'. At the same time this melancholy image, based on a honeymoon drawing, would have carried a personal meaning for Constable in his widowhood.

September 2004