This watercolour depicts Brighton from the sea, highlighting its transformation from a fishing town to a popular pleasure resort in the early 19th century.

It is the only picture Turner is known to have painted featuring the city's iconic Royal Pavilion. The newly constructed Chain Pier (1823) on the right appears as a delicate structure poised elegantly above the water bustling with people. In the centre of the painting floats the Royal Pavilion, the recently completed summer palace designed by John Nash for George IV, Prince of Wales. The axis of the Pavilion has been skewed to appear parallel with the seafront making the building dominate. St. Nicholas Church can be seen on the hill above the old town and LamprellÂ’s famous Baths are shown on the far left of the image. These buildings highlight new developments in technology and engineering and the importance of fashion and tourism. By placing the Pavilion in the centre of the image, Turner emphasises George IVÂ’s contribution to the townÂ’s prosperity. The work had been in private hands and unseen to the public for more than 100 years before being purchased at auction for Brighton with an Art Fund grant.


B.G. Windus, Tottenham, 1840; John Morley of Clapham, ChristieÂ’s London, May 1896 (265 gns to Vokins); Mrs Robinson of Sheffield; Thomas Smith, Manchester; AgnewÂ’s Manchester; Mr Swales; by descent to Marjorie Swales; by descent to private collection.

Back to top