John Constable

The Gleaners, Brighton


Not on display

John Constable 1776–1837
Oil paint on paper on canvas
Support: 159 × 302 mm
frame: 295 × 440 × 70 mm
Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan 1900

Display caption

Rural themes offered nineteenth-century urban art audiences an invigorating view of a healthier way of life. However, many people also escaped the city in reality.

Brighton in particular became a popular resort. John Constable went there with his wife Maria in 1824, for the sake of her health. This sketch of women gathering stray sheaves of corn after the harvest (‘gleaning’) was made outdoors, on the Downs above Brighton in August. The freshness of Constable’s painting style seemed to express perfectly the ideals of robust rural healthiness prevalent at the time.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

N01817 The Gleaners, Brighton 1824

Oil on paper, laid on canvas, 6 1/8×11 11/16 (15.9×30.2).

Inscribed by Charles Golding Constable on a label on the stretcher ‘John Constable R.A. had written on the back of this “Brighton - Noon, looking N.E. Augst 20, 1824”: (Captain) C. Constable’. ‘(Captain)’ is an addition in another hand.

Prov: Charles Golding Constable, sold Christie's 9 May 1870(134, ‘“The Gleaners:” Brighton. Painted on the spot, August 20, 1824’; the remains of the sale stencil are on the stretcher), bt. Henry Vaughan £22. 1s. and bequeathed by him to the National Gallery 1900; transferred to the Tate Gallery 1951. Accession N01817.
Engr: in mezzotint by Sir Frank Short as ‘A Sussex Down’ and published by Dunthorne 1890.
Lit: Holmes 1902, p.246; Shirley 1937, p.181; Davies 1946, p.31; Chamot 1956, p.261; Beckett 1961, Paintings: Sussex (13) No.44; Hoozee 1979, No.419.

Like No.27 above, this study was made during Constable's long stay at Brighton in the summer of 1824. Similar figures of gleaners appear at the left of V.&A., R.269 (Fig. 1, H.421)1 and in a study formerly with Dr W. Katz and now in a private collection (Fig.2, H.420).2

The size of the paper used for No.28 is 6×11 5/8 (15.2×29.9). After laying it down on a larger canvas, Constable seems to have added further clouds at the right, extended the windmill just below them, added clouds above the gleaners and perhaps the gleaners themselves. If these figures were added in the studio, Constable may have taken them from the sketch illustrated in Fig.2.

1. Oil on paper, 6 1/16×9 3/4 (15.6×24.4). On the back is a pencil drawing of Brighton beach with an indistinct date -? ‘Aug 20’ - inscribed at right angles to it. Reynolds suggests that the oil study on the recto may have been made on 20 August 1824, i.e. the same day as No.28.

2. Oil on paper, 5 9/16×4 (14.6×10.2).

Published in:
Leslie Parris, The Tate Gallery Constable Collection, London 1981

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