In this print Constable sought to capture the magnitude of a wave when viewed from a sheltered position. He wanted it to convey ‘one of those animated days when the masses of cloud, agitated and torn, are passing rapidly’, and the wind ‘meeting with a certain set of the tide, causes the sea to rise and swell with great animation’. He noted that the solitary sea-fowl ‘may be observed beating his steady course for miles along the beach just above the breakers’, and that these birds added to ‘the wildness and to the sentiment of melancholy always attendant on the ocean’ (Beckett, Discourses, pp. 19–20).
Lucas began working on the plate some time before 22 September 1830, when Constable said he was longing to see a proof of it (Beckett IV, p. 331). It was based on the painting Brighton Beach (A sea beach) 1824 . It was the only Brighton print in the original English Landscape series of 1830–32. Lucas made at least nine progress proof variations before the published state, of which this is the last. During the proofing the sky was developed, the boat reworked and the number of boats on the sea was increased.