Constable viewed this scene at Bowleaze Cove in Weymouth Bay as expressive of his own feelings and personal associations. He connected the tempestuous weather with the death of Captain John Wordsworth, the poet’s brother and his friend Mary Fisher’s cousin, who drowned near this cove with all two hundred of his crew in 1805. C.R. Leslie’s wife saw the mezzotint at Constable’s home in Charlotte Street, London, and asked if she could have it. Constable sent it to her the following day suggesting that she should
apply to it the lines of Wordsworth – ‘that sea in anger/ and that dismal shoar’. I think of ‘Wordsworth’ for on that spot, perished his brother in the wreck of the Abergavenny (Beckett III, pp. 28–29).
In the list of contents for English Landscape this mezzotint was called Weymouth Bay, Dorset. – Tempestuous Evening.
Lucas had begun work on this plate by January 1830 – as an impression in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, is dated ‘30 January 1830’ (Tate 1991, p. 349), – basing it on the large oil painting Weymouth Bay c.1819/1830 . He made at least five progress proof variations before the published state, of which this is the third. During the proofing, highlights on the waves and boat were added and the sky lightened above the cliff and on the left. This proof was printed before three gulls were added on the left.
Heysen wrote: ‘The news of the two prints – … Weymouth Bay – excited me and you may be sure I shall await their arrival with impatience’ (Heysen, 1948?, NLA MS 5073/1/7190); and
now for the Weymouth Bay which is an extremely fine & rich early proof – I like it immensely & am glad to have it. Looks as if its just come off the press – later on I must have a complete proof with its final … with the driving rain which completes the compos & so [relieves?] the large dark space to the left – and the big space of dark dividing the composition in two is somewhat relieved by the introduction of more forms & yet this would also – lessen the dramatic moment (ibid., 23 February 1948, NLA MS 5073/1/5594).