John Constable RA, Seascape Study: Brighton Beach looking west

Seascape Study: Brighton Beach looking west, ca. 1824-28

John Constable RA (1776 - 1837)

RA Collection: Art

In 1819 Constable's wife Maria contracted tuberculosis. The couple frequented Brighton from spring 1824 in the hope that the sea air would improve her health. Maria returned there 1825-26 and again in 1828 and Constable spent as much time there as his work permitted. This sketch has therefore commonly been assigned to one of Constable's visits to Brighton between 1824 and 1828.

Brighton was preferred residence of King George IV. Constable wrote to John Fisher in 1824 complaining that ‘Brighton is the receptacle of the fashion and offscouring of London. The magnificence of the sea, and its (to use your own beautiful expression) everlasting voice is drowned in the din & lost in the tumult of stage coaches – gigs – ‘flys’ etc – and the beach is only piccadilly …. By the sea-side … in short there is nothing here for the painter but the breakers - & the sky – which have been lovely indeed and always [various].’ (Beckett VI, p.171).

Constable drew many oil sketches looking from the beach towards the elegant Chain Pier and looking west towards Worthing. Sent some of these sketches to Fisher early 1825 and he explained that ‘they were done in the lid of my box on my knees as usual’ (Beckett IV, p.189). The expanse of sky and sea is given scale by the inclusion of two windswept figures which gaze out to sea watching the breaking waves. An additional strip of paper had been added to the bottom edge of this sketch.

Further Reading

R.B. Beckett, ed., John Constable's Correspondence IV, Patrons, Dealers and Fellow Artists Vol IV, Ipswich, Suffolk, 1966

R.B. Beckett, ed., John Constable's Correspondence VI, The Fishers Vol VI, Ipswich, Suffolk, 1968

Graham Reynolds,The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, 1984, Text Vol. p.147, no. 24.65; Plates Vol. pl. 533

Object details

Seascape Study: Brighton Beach looking west
John Constable RA (1776 - 1837)
ca. 1824-28
Object type
Oil on paper laid on canvas

215 mm x 265 mm x 10 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Given by Isabel Constable 1888

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