John Constable, English, 1776 - 1837
Constable spent the winter of 1815–16 in East Bergholt, Suffolk, England, with his dying father. Making the most of the unusually warm weather and his proximity to rural subjects, he painted these donkeys on February 29, 1816. Worked on a small scrap of canvas, the sketch served as a preparatory study that Constable used when adding donkeys to three landscapes: a wood scene in autumn, a view of Hampstead Heath, and a path outside the village of Stoke-by-Nayland. At an unknown date, probably following the artist’s death, the sketch was mounted on a piece of wood and the paint extended about an inch in all directions.