This sheet is from a sketchbook that Constable used in 1818. The drawing is a copy of a painting by Aelbert Cuyp (1620–1691) that belonged to the Earl of Bute in 1818 and 1819, when it was lent to the British Institution. Constable may have sketched it there.
Constable referred to Cuyp in one of his lectures on art: ‘Chiaroscuro is by no means confined to dark pictures; the works of Cuyp, though generally light, are full of it’ (Beckett, Discourses, p. 62); and he wrote to Leslie on 6 September 1834 of a ‘truly sublime’ Cuyp in the collection of Lady Dysart at Ham House, London: ‘A tempest, still mild, & tranquil … the cattle lying and ruminating in the foreground, while a horrid rent in the sky, almost frightens one, & the lightning descends to the earth over some poor cottage with a glide that is so much like nature’ (Beckett III, pp. 118–19).