Constable and Brighton
'Something Out of Nothing'
Edited by Shân Lancaster
- A beautifully illustrated book written to accompany a major exhibition, Constable and Brighton, at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery in 2017, curated by Brighton artist Peter Harrap, in consultation with Constable expert Anne Lyles (formerly of Tate) and with support from researcher Shan Lancaster
- Features the most comprehensive selection of Constable’s Brighton studies ever assembled, including works from private collections never published before
- Contains an exquisite bonus selection of Turner’s marine studies of Brighton from the same period, alongside authoritative texts on both artists
There was more to John Constable’s art than the great rural landscapes for which he is famous. This lavishly illustrated book focuses on a largely overlooked element in his life – his close and artistically rewarding relationship with the boisterous resort of Brighton during the years 1824-28.
He went in search of healthy air for his ailing wife Maria and the peace to help him clear a backlog of commissions, and became accustomed to painting on the beach or up by the windmills that dotted the Sussex Downs. More than 100 small, vivid studies from these walks exist, most dashed off outside in all weathers, some that are almost abstract responses to storms or the light on the sea. This book assembles the most complete collection of these Brighton sketches ever published, some of them only recently discovered.
Regency Brighton – what was then the largest and most fashionable resort in Europe – is also explored through maps and prints, tracing the routes Constable took through the developing town. His great contemporary, Turner, was also active there in the mid-1820s, and a range of contrasting views by both artists is featured here.
All of this new research builds on the recent discovery of the precise location of Constable’s seaside lodgings. In a final section the current occupant, artist Peter Harrap, is interviewed about Constable’s resonances with 20th and 21st century artists.
Shân Lancaster is a writer, editor and researcher. As a freelance journalist she has written for most national newspaper titles and as a researcher she has collaborated on numerous book developments, and television and film scripts, including the BBC Four television documentary Constable: A Country Rebel, first aired in 2014. Her research originally identified the exact location of Constable’s lodgings at 9 Sober’s Gardens, now 11 Sillwood Road, Brighton, and marked with a Blue Plaque.
Peter Harrap is the curator of Constable and Brighton at Brighton Museum. He was elected a Royal Academy of Arts schools graduate in 2004 as director of Young RAS. In 2010/11 he was an assistant curator of, and exhibited in, No New Thing Under the Sun at the Royal Academy. He has also curated Radical Art (2005) and Play (2007). Harrap lives and works in the former 9 Sober’s Gardens.