The collector, patron and amateur artist Sir George Beaumont offered Constable valuable encouragement as a painter, and gave him access to his collection of works by Old Masters. They first met in 1795 when Beaumont was visiting his mother in Dedham, and over the next three decades Constable visited Beaumont at his London home in Grosvenor Square, and at his country house, Coleorton Hall, Leicestershire.
Constable painted this copy of a landscape by David Teniers (1610–1690) belonging to Beaumont for William Dodsworth. He painted it with thick impasto and introduced dynamic clouds in order to distinguish his painting from the original; he also introduced a dog. A label on the back is inscribed: ‘This Copy from Teniers – in the possession of Sir Geo. Beaumont was painted by Mr Constable and presented by him to William Dodsworth Esqr. In trifling acknowledgement of his handsome present – of his very fine Work of Salisbury Cathedral London January 15 1823’.There is some doubt about this date, as Fisher had written to Constable on 30 November 1822: ‘Dodsworth desires me to thank you for the Teniers’ (Beckett VI, p. 105). This letter may simply indicate that Dodsworth wanted to thank Constable for promising the painting, as Fisher wrote again to Constable on 7 February 1823: ‘Dodsworth is hugely delighted with his Teniers, & is in admiration & astonishment, how you could make it look so exactly like an old master’ (ibid., p. 110).
William Dodsworth was a verger at Salisbury Cathedral: he had published a book on the Cathedral, An Historical Account of the Episcopal See, and Cathedral Church, of Sarum, or Salisbury (1814) and had given a copy to Constable.