Constable and Brighton, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Brighton

8 April 2017 – 8 October 2017

Known for his landscapes rather than his seascapes, this new show charts the impression made on Constable during his stay in Brighton & Hove.

Until recent years, little was known about Brighton & Hove’s greatest art historical claim to fame. And so, many will be surprised by the revelations in the city museum’s new show. 

Because, unless you take regular strolls to the beach down Sillwood Road, you might not notice the blue plaque affixed discreetly to one of the houses. It reveals that, between 1824 and 1828, the nation’s best-loved landscape painter was in residence, and the show aims to demonstrate that these were influential times.

Constable made several innovations while he was there, capturing the fleeting drama of the South Coast weather fronts, and taking systemic walks, sketchbook in hand, along the beach and out to Preston Park. The show will demonstrate that this 19th-century artist, known for his conservatism, was quite the radical when it came to his use of colour.

By strange coincidence, Constable’s old address is now home to artist Peter Harrap, a curator of the current show. And Harrap has drawn connections between the old master and a number of modern and contemporary artists whose work also shows traces of his time in the city.

Collaborators Anne Lyle and Shan Lancaster have also brought important Constable paintings to the seaside town. Locals may regret that some of these ever left. But for a time, visitors from far and wide can enjoy images of the Chain Pier (which no longer stands), a rainstorm over the waves, and a typical Sussex windmill.

Brighton & Hove may have changed a great deal, but the appeal of Constable remains constant.