Throughout his life Sandys made hundreds of studies, from bridges to patches of ivy. He would turn to these studies for use in his paintings. Often the same details appear in several works – Bishops Bridge in Norwich, seen in this sketch appears in the background of ‘Autumn’ and ‘Oriana’, but even clumps of weeds were taken from studies and reappear.
Sandys’ earliest work shows his obvious talent and enjoyment of painting things in as realistic a way as possible. His first commissions, for J.H. Gurney and James Bulwer, involved close observation and exact reproduction of buildings, objects and birds.
Rather surprisingly, Sandys never used photography to help him achieve the realistic details in his pictures – everything was copied from nature directly.