Eastern England is mostly rural, its medieval wealth based on the wool trade and other agricultural activities. It has a rich landscape, favoured by artists for the 'big skies' and low horizons, and is home to the great university city of Cambridge and to grand old houses and estates such as Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire. East Anglia has had close cultural connections with the Low Countries, as well as its similar topography, doubtless encouraged the strong tradition of landscape painting in that part of the region, as seen in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the work of Gainsborough, Crome, Cotman and, most famously, Constable.
In the late nineteenth century the fishing village of Walberswick in Suffolk became a fashionable artists' colony, attracting important painters such as Philip Wilson Steer. More recently the tradition of great landscape painting was continued by Sir Alfred Munnings and Edward Seago, both well known for their very strong connections with East Anglia. From the 1930s to the 1970s north Essex was home to the Great Bardfield group artists such as John Aldridge, Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious and Michael Rothenstein. Much of Hadham in Hertfordshire is home to the Henry Moore Foundation and it attracts many thousands of visitors to its exhibitions and extensive grounds where some of Moore's finest works are on view. Close to London, Eastern England has had a strong attraction for artists over the centuries and to this day the region is home to many hundreds of artists and craftspeople.