DETAIL: John CONSTABLE,  Great Britain 1776 � 1837  'Harwich Lighthouse' c.1820 oil on canvas Tate, London, gift of Maria Louisa Constable, Isabel Constable and Lionel Bicknell Constable in 1888 Tate, London 2005
John CONSTABLE | Rainstorm over the sea

Great Britain 1776 – 1837
Rainstorm over the sea
[Seascape study with rainclouds]
oil on paper laid on canvas
23.5 (h) x 32.6 (w) cm
Royal Academy of Arts, London, gift of Isabel Constable in 1888
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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).

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