In the mezzotint, Spring, Constable and Lucas aimed to capture the dry quality of the paint of Constable’s oil sketch of this subject: Spring: East Bergholt Common c.1821 or 1829 (cat. 31). Constable wanted his print to ‘give some idea of one of those bright and animated days of the early year, when all nature bears so exhilarating an aspect’ (Beckett, Discourses, p. 14), and in the list of contents for English Landscape it was called Spring. East Bergholt Common, Hail Squalls. – Noon.
In his text for the plate Constable referred to the range of colour of spring foliage and the importance of clouds in forecasting weather. He noted that:
the clouds accumulate in very large and dense masses, and from their loftiness seem to move but slowly; immediately upon these large clouds appear numerous opaque patches, which, however, are only small clouds passing rapidly before them … These floating much nearer the earth, may perhaps fall in with a much stronger current of wind, which as well as their comparative lightness, causes them to move with greater rapidity (ibid., pp. 14–15).
Lucas had probably begun work on this plate by September 1829 (Beckett IV, p. 322). He made many changes to the plate, making at least eight progress proof variations during the process, before producing the published state.