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The cottage nestling in woodland was a stock motif in early nineteenth century art, appearing even in the work of an artist as technically daring as Constable. Indeed, the relatively conventional character of this painting suggests that the painter may have had the marketplace in mind.

However, this picture has an additional, personal significance. The image originated with an oil sketch of the rectory of Langham, where Constable’s old friend and supporter, Dr Fisher, had once lived. Fisher’s death in 1825 prompted Constable to return to the sketch and produce a number of oils of the scene.

September 2004