Cottage at East Bergholt
The strips of canvas added to both sides of this painting suggest that Constable made this sketch to work out the composition for a proposed exhibition picture. The title is a modern invention, though the scene is reminiscent of many of his Suffolk landscapes and combines motifs from earlier paintings. The specific viewpoint has not been identified and may be imaginary. At the time of its acquisition by Lever, the work was notorious, having been the subject of a celebrated debate over Constable forgeries. Today, however, it is prized as one of the artist’s finest late works, a tour-de-force of palette-knife painting and an image of brooding, almost mystical power.