Constable began the artwork in 1833 and completed it in 1835. He sold it to an art enthusiast by the name Robert Vernon in 1847 for 300 pounds. The painting is currently in the British Museum. The Valley Farm is a picture of a house that was once owned by Willy Lott who is said to have lived in it for more than 80 years. Due to its enduring presence, it came to be an important part of Suffolk’s landscape. To Constable, the house represented the natural way of life and a nostalgic symbol of that part of the country. He had featured the house in some of his previous works, including in The Mill Stream and The Hay Wain, which is an indication that he had a sentimental attachment to it.
Notably, The Valley Farm is based on two previous works, The Ferry (1814) and Willy Lott’s House from the Stour (1816-18). Constable made a few subtle changes to include a few features; for instance, he added the ferryman, the three cows, and the woman on a boat. He also made the house to look grander by adding extra windows and half-timbering on one side. However, he retained some features found in earlier versions, including the man at the gate, figures standing on the far end of the riverbank, and the birds skimming the waters. Nonetheless, he managed to retain the general outlook of the house and features around it.
Upon its release to the public, The Valley Farm was received with mixed reactions, with critics claiming that it did not express the landscape accurately. However, it went on to become the most recognized works by John Constable. It has been owned by notable figures in its lifetime, such as Jonathan Peel (the younger brother of Prime Minister Robert Peel) and a New York millionaire by the name James Lennox. It is available for viewing on the British Museum website.