Is it by John Constable?

We see nothing truly until we understand it. John Constable

Saturday morning and unable to wait any longer I head to the Pavilion bright and early so I can study the regency costumes on display without interruption. And just as I am heading downwards along St James’ Street staring back at me from a shop window is a pencil sketch of a ship on Brighton beach looking every bit the antique, and with a price tag of forty quid.

Mind Charity Shop window, St James's Street
So I walk on and go to the exhibition, first in, I marvel at the petite size of the costumes positioned in the rooms where two hundred years ago real people would have worn similar. With one eye trying to imagine the costumes walking and talking I still keep thinking about the picture in the window and wonder whether I should go and have a look at it again in case it is still there.

Back on St James’ Street and I am holding the picture up to try and scrutinize whether it is a copy or the original, I can’t tell and I’m standing in a charity shop so I can’t ask if I can take off the back to check. But forty quid is forty quid.

I dither, what if it's for real I think and then I buy it.

Walking home I’m not sure if I’ve been done up like a kipper or whether it’s ok to spend forty quid on a frame and print.

At home I loosen the fastenings and ease out the picture, it’s a copy, oh what! Oh well. Now that my dreams of untold wealth have been dashed I carefully clean the glass and place the picture back in the frame.

The writing along the bottom of the sketch looks as if it might read, ‘Brighton 14 Oct 1825’, whether it’s a copy or not I still want to know who sketched it.
Brighton 14 Oct 1825

Some googling later I find a picture that looks similar by Constable, is my print by Constable I wonder?

courtesy of http://www.john-constable.org/

Some more googling reveals it likely that Constable was in town 14 Oct 1825 sketching an old church, so maybe it is a Constable.

Whether it is or not, the view from my windows is of the same coast the artist of this sketch looked at and the seaside square I live in was laid out around the same time too, so it seems fitting for this picture to end up hanging above my mantelpiece one hundred and eighty five years later.

1 comment

  1. I also have a pencil sketch resembling the one in your photo with the same date: 14 Oct 1825

    I just found it in my basement today. My relatives have owned this home since 1969.



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