This spectacular oil sketch looking directly out to sea is one of the most remarkable open air sketches that Constable painted during his visits to Brighton. He depicted a dramatic sky, capturing the fleeting effect of a rainstorm at sea, with thunderous black clouds, and with a shaft of sunlight breaking through to light up the horizon on the left.
Fisher wrote to Constable about his Brighton sketches, comparing them to the writing of William Paley in his Sermons and suggesting that they were ‘full of vigour, and nature, fresh, original, warm from the observation of nature’ (Beckett VI, p. 196).
In his biography on Constable, Andrew Shirley observed that Constable’s sketches: ‘convey an extraordinary force of emotion’ and that in this work in particular he captured ‘the transient rainstorm, tremendous but with a gleam of light, seized in a moment’ (Shirley 1949, pp. 22–21).