Constable used expressive brushstrokes to create this lively image of village life. The view is from an upper floor window at the front of his family home. He made a direct and immediate representation of the scene before him, depicting an avenue of stalls lining the street and a troop of travelling players performing on a stage in the middle of the green.
This is one of a number of oil sketches from nature that Constable painted in 1811, which are full of energy and present a fresh impression of their subjects.
In Constable’s time the East Bergholt fair took place on the village green annually on Wednesday and Thursday in the last week of July. In 1872, however, the fair was abolished by court order because for a number of years stallholders had overstayed their welcome by continuing to trade after the two days of the fair (St John 2002, p. 8).