A Windmill on the Downs near Brighton thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Paintings, Room 88, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries

A Windmill on the Downs near Brighton

Oil Painting
08/1824 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

As Constable’s father owned a windmill, the painter was familiar with their workings. This study depicts a mill near Brighton. Twelve years later Constable combined this scene with a view of Branch Hill Pond in the composition Hampstead Heath with a Rainbow, now in Tate Britain.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on paper laid on canvas
Brief Description
Oil painting, 'A Windmill on the Downs near Brighton', John Constable, 1824
Physical Description
Oil painting entitled 'A Windmill on the Downs near Brighton'.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 21cm
  • Estimate width: 30.4cm
  • Frame height: 41.1cm
  • Frame width: 56.5cm
  • Frame depth: 4cm
Dimensions taken from Catalogue of the Constable Collection, Graham Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1973
Style
Credit line
Given by Isabel Constable
Object history
Given by Isabel Constable, 1888



Historical significance: In his letter to Fisher of 29 August 1824 (Beckett, VI, pp. 170-2), Constable gives an unflattering description of Brighton and concludes: "In short there is nothing here for a painter but the breakers-& sky-which have been lovely indeed and always varying. The fishing boats are picturesque, but not so much so as the Hasting boats which are luggers ... But these subjects are so hackneyed in the Exhibition, and are in fact so little capable of that beautifull sentiment that landscape is capable of or which rather belongs to landscape, that they have done a great deal of harm to the art -they form a class of art much easier than landscape & have in consequence almost supplanted it ... " Constable had offered to lend Fisher one of his Brighton sketch-books but was eventually unable to do so because of the suggestion that the sketches should be engraved (see note following No. 284). In place of them he sent a number of oil sketches . He refers to them in his letter of 5 January 1825 (Beckett, VI, p.189): I have enclosed in the box a dozen of my Brighton oil sketches-perhaps the sight of the sea may cheer Mrs F-they were done in the lid of my box on my knees as usual. Will you be so good as to take care of them. I put them in a book on purpose -as I find dirt destroys them a good deal. Will you repack the box as you fmd it. Return them to me here at your leisure but the sooner the better". In his letter of [6] April 1825 (Beckett, VI, p. 196) Fisher speaks of returning the Brighton sketches, and sending with them two volumes of Paley's sermons: "They are fit companions for your sketches, being exactly like them: full of vigour, & nature, fresh, original, warm from observation of nature, hasty, unpolished, untouched afterwards".

The inscription on the back of No. 266 [Museum No. 591-1888] shows that it was almost certainly one of the Brighton oil sketches in this batch sent by Constable to Fisher. Others among the sketches certainly painted in this year (Nos. 263-265, 267 and 268) [Museum No. 782-1888; 783-1888;148-1888; 335-1888;149-1888] may well have been included in the consignment.
Historical context
In 1824 Constable's sole exhibit at the Royal Academy was 'A Boat passing a Lock' ('The Lock') (now in the collection of Mr. S. Morrison). 'The Hay Wain', the 'View on the Stour near Dedham' and a 'View of Hampstead Heath' were exhibited at the Salon in Paris in this year. He took his wife and family to Brighton for the first time in May, and himself spent some time in London and some with them in Brighton, returning before them at the end of August.
Production
The mill seen here with the houses clustering beside it may be the same as shown in the oil sketch Museum No. 149-1888, dated 3 August 1824. In any event the treatment is sufficiently close to that of Museum No. 149-1888 to justify the assumption that the scene near Brighton and the date of the sketch c.1824. Holmes, p. 247, dates accordingly.(Catalogue of the Constable Collection, Graham Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1973, cat. no. 272, 170)
Subjects depicted
Summary
As Constable’s father owned a windmill, the painter was familiar with their workings. This study depicts a mill near Brighton. Twelve years later Constable combined this scene with a view of Branch Hill Pond in the composition Hampstead Heath with a Rainbow, now in Tate Britain.
Bibliographic References
  • Bouhours, Jean-Michel, ed. Lumière, transparence, opacité. Monaco: Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, 2006. ISBN: 88-7624-903-6.
  • Catalogue of the Constable Collection, Graham Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1973, cat. no. 272
  • Evans, Mark et al. Vikutoria & Arubāto Bijutsukan-zō : eikoku romanshugi kaigaten = The Romantic tradition in British painting, 1800-1950 : masterpieces from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Japan : Brain Trust, 2002
  • p. 114Shân Lancaster, ed. Constable and Brighton: something out of nothing. London : Scala Arts & Heritage Publishers Ltd, 2017. ISBN: 9781785510694.
Collection
Accession Number
126-1888

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record createdAugust 27, 2003
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