On 21 October 1823 Constable wrote to his wife Maria telling her of his arrival at Coleorton Hall, Leicestershire, where he stayed with Sir George Beaumont for several weeks: ‘O dear this is a lovely place indeed … such grounds – such trees – such distances – rock and water – all as it were can be done from the various windows of the house’ (Beckett II, p. 290).
In this drawing Constable depicted the stone in the woods of Coleorton that Beaumont had dedicated to the landscape painter, Richard Wilson (1714–1782), and inscribed ‘Brought here 6 Jan 1818’. The memorial reflected Beaumont’s admiration for Wilson, who had been his teacher. It was a fitting memorial for an artist who placed large boulders such as this in the foregrounds of his landscapes. In making this drawing Constable linked Beaumont and Wilson, and also recorded his admiration for Wilson’s work.
Constable later observed in one of his lectures on art:
To Wilson, who was ten years the senior of Reynolds, may justly be given the praise of opening the way to the genuine principles of Landscape in England; he appeared at a time when this art, not only here, but on the Continent, was altogether in the hands of the mannerists … He looked at nature entirely for himself, and remaining free from any tincture of the styles that prevailed among the living artists, both abroad and at home, he was almost wholly excluded from any share of the patronage which was liberally bestowed on his contemporaries (Beckett, Discourses, pp. 66–67).