In new year 1826 Constable joined his family at Brighton and stayed for a fortnight. This bold study is one of only two paintings he made during this visit. It is also one of the very few oil sketches he executed outdoors in winter. On an earlier visit to Brighton in 1824, Constable had admired ‘the magnificence of the sea’ and he was attracted especially by ‘the breakers and the sky’. He later wrote how seabirds - some of which are included here - ‘add to the wildness and to the sentiment of melancholy always attendant on the ocean’.