The Living Coast through the eyes of John Constable 1824-1828

Events History Spotlight on

The exhibition Constable and Brighton at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery is the result of an extraordinary coincidence. Artist Peter Harrap discovered that the house in Sillwood Road where he lived and worked was the same one that Constable had lodged in for extended periods during 1824-28 – known in the day as 9 Mrs Sober’s Gardens. The property now bears a Blue Plaque recording his time there. Peter’s research has brought together over 60 works that explore the artist's time in the rapidly developing seaside resort.

John Constable brought his family to Brighton on medical advice - the sea air was believed to be beneficial for his wife Maria’s tuberculosis. Whilst in the town Constable took many walks in the surrounding area, sketching and painting the views and activity of The Living Coast.

A Windmill near Brighton, 1824, John Constable (1776-1837), © Tate, London 2016

Walking west towards Shoreham is a series of paintings featuring stormy seas and rain, views of grassy downland sweeping down to the coast, colliers and fishermen working on the beach, and fishing boats pulled up on the pebbles and sailing on the sea. Walking North over the Downs and Devil’s Dyke is a record of the wonderful vistas as Constable would have seen them in the early 19th century, often featuring the windmills which he included in many of his pictures. Walking East focuses on the bustling and industrious coastline and offers glimpses of the town. It features fishermen, ships and boats, cliff-top buildings, visitors and the majestic Chain Pier.

The exhibition also gives a window onto the family life of the Constables in the town and the background to the extraordinary coincidence that led to the exhibition.

A book with a series of essays entitled Constable and Brighton: Something out of Nothing has been produced to accompany the exhibition, which runs until 8 October 2017.

Admission to the exhibition which runs until 8 October is included in the general admission charge for Brighton Museum: Adult £5.20 and Child £3.00. Resident admission to the exhibition is Adult £3.50 and Child Free.

Opening Times: Tuesday - Sunday 10am-5pm. Closed Monday (except Bank Holiday 10am-5pm).

Leave a comment