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Constable first went to Brighton in 1824, taking his wife Maria in an attempt to restore her failing health. He visited her there frequently in the mid-1820s and made many drawings and sketches, but this is his only large painting of a Brighton subject.

The 1820s were some of the busiest years of Brighton’s development as a fashionable seaside resort. Here Constable shows the bustling life of the beach against a backdrop of Brighton’s new hotels, residential quarters and the Chain Pier itself. The pier opened in 1823, shortly before Constable’s first visit, but was destroyed by storm in 1896.

September 2004