(b. 1776, East Bergholt, d. 1837, Hampstead)

View on the River Severn at Worcester

Pencil on paper, 218 x 181 mm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

Constable's pencil drawings are far less well-known than his oil sketches and large scale, highly finished paintings, but as intimate studies created in the open air they provide compelling evidence of how he immersed himself in study of the English countryside. This fine example, which is enlivened by details such as the abandoned barges and horse drinking at the water's edge, illustrates the breezy naturalism and compositional clarity he was able to convey, even in such modest works.

Constable is chiefly known for his depictions of the Stour Valley in his native Suffolk. But he also undertook visits to other parts of England, and in October 1835 travelled to Worcester to deliver three lectures on the history of landscape painting for a local learned society. In a letter to the printmaker David Lucas he declared: 'Who would ever have thought of my turning Methodist preacher, that is, a preacher on "Method" - but I shall do good, to that art for which I live.' He stayed on for a few more days, making drawings, including this study, along the river Severn. It proved to be the last such tour he made.