An oil painting of Brighton by noted artist John Constable has failed to sell at an auction.

A Sea Beach – Brighton, had been expected to fetch between £400,000 and £600,000 at a Bonhams Old Master Paintings sale in London yesterday. (wed)

However it did not meet its reserve price.

A Bonhams spokesman said the painting's owner, a private collector, would now have to decide whether to take it back or try again at a future sale.

Constable and his family were frequent visitors to Brighton for the sake of his wife, Maria's, health.

Although the painter disliked Brighton, describing it as ‘nothing less than Piccadilly by the seaside’, he was captivated by the changing moods of the sea and sky and these became the inspiration for countless sketches.

The exact date of the painting is unknown but it is believed to be based on a small oil sketch housed in the Detroit Institute of Fine Art, that was drawn on Brighton beach.

The picture was in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for many years, where it was attributed to Constable.

It was also the focus of a BBC programme which set out to establish its authenticity.