These drawings were made in the late spring of 1803, when Constable spent nearly a month on board the 'Coutts'. The ship was sailing to China, and Constable joined it between London and Deal. He is said to have made as many as 130 drawings on the voyage, but fewer than fifty are known today. They are mostly rapid sketches of the shipping he saw on the Thames, the Medway and along the coast. When in 1837 Constable's son, Charles Golding Constable (1821-1879), heard of his father's death, he wrote to express his concern about the fate of these sketches. Being a sailor, Charles Golding took an especial interest in them.
Gallery label, September 2004
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