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Following his outdoor sketching campaign in Suffolk in 1802, Constable did not return to making oil studies from nature in earnest until around 1808. This sketch dates from the following year, and is notable for its smooth paintwork and strong tonal contrasts. The rectangular format of the study, together with its open vista and low horizon, allows him to devote a much larger area than usual to the representation of the sky. Constable paid several visits to Epsom between 1806 and 1812 to see his aunt and uncle, Mary and James Gubbins.

September 2004