In 1819, in an attempt to find a healthy environment for his wife Maria and their children, Constable rented a cottage at Hampstead – then a small village in fairly rural surroundings high above the smog and noise of London. He continued to take rented accommodation in Hampstead during most summers until settling there more permanently in 1827. From around this time places other than Suffolk began to play a significant part in his life and art.
This view from near Branch Hill Pond at the western edge of the Hampstead Heath was only a few minutes walk from Constable’s rented property at 2 Lower Terrace, Hampstead. He painted it looking towards the west, as the sun was setting. There is good agreement between his inscription and the weather records for the London area on that day, which suggest that it was a fine but cloudy day with a very fine sunset (Thornes 1999, p. 214).
Constable painted this view – looking west to Harrow – a number of times, studying it on different days under varying conditions and capturing a range of late afternoon and early evening skies: see View from Hampstead Heath, looking towards Harrow August 1821 ; Hampstead Heath, sun setting over Harrow 12 September 1821 , Hampstead Heath, looking to Harrow, (sunset) 1821 or 1822 and Hampstead Heath, looking towards Harrow at sunset 9 August 1823 .