WHO better to curate an exhibition of John Constable’s work in Brighton than an artist who currently lives in his old seaside home?

Peter Harrap moved to these shores with his partner and fellow artist Natasha Kissell in 2010 from West London, where they lived in a flat between two of Lucien Freud’s old studios. It seems Harrap has a natural inclination towards pioneering historic cultural figures. The artist says that the house in Sillwood Street was a “very unloved wreck” when he moved in, but his intrigue was soon aroused when he was informed by a neighbour that Constable MAY once have resided in the lodging.

Two years of meticulous and wide-ranging research later, Harrap was able to confirm that the neighbourhood rumours were true; the influential landscape writer did indeed once count Sillwood Street as his home. The link was validated by blue plaque that was unveiled by Constable’s great-great-grandson. Harrap is behind Constable and Brighton, an upcoming exhibition at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

The display, which brings together more than 60 of the artist’s sketches, drawings and paintings from forms part of the gallery’s Regency Season, which also features the collections Jane Austen by the Sea and Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate.

Constable was 48 when he came to live in Brighton on the advice of a doctor who thought the sea air would be good for his wife Maria’s tuberculosis. In the years previous to that, his profile as an artist had begun to rise considerably.

By all accounts, the Constables’ first year in the city was happy, although the artist was rather ambivalent about Brighton itself. In one letter, he wrote that “the neighbourhood of Brighton consists of London cow fields and hideous masses of unfledged earth called the country”.

He could not deny the splendour of the Sussex coastline, though, and his work flourished amid sky and sea scenes that were highly conducive to landscape art. He made 150 paintings and drawings during his time in Brighton. Three – of Hove Beach, Shoreham Bay and Brighton Chain Pier – are displayed in the pictures above.

Maria Constable died in 1828. Constable mourned her for the rest of his life.