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Oil painting - Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Ground
  • Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Ground
    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837
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Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Ground

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1823 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857

  • Museum number:

    FA.33[O]

  • Gallery location:

    Paintings, room 87, case WEST WALL

Object Type
Landscape painting in oils steadily became more popular during the 19th century. John Constable and his contemporary J.M.W. Turner take credit for establishing landscape as a significant subject. Until then, history paintings had been considered more important, but increasingly naturalistic paintings of picturesque views of the British landscape appealed to a wider section of the art-buying public.

People
Among Constable's closest friends were Dr John Fisher, Bishop of Salisbury, and his family, and Constable gave lessons to one of Fisher's children. Fisher had commissioned this painting of the Cathedral in 1820, and both he and his daughter appear in the left-hand corner of the finished work. Constable had made a series of sketches before starting work on the canvas, and after it had been exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1823, he was asked to make a smaller version and a full-scale replica.

Subjects Depicted
The painting embodies the full range of qualities of a quintessentially British landscape painting - the clouds, trees, a water meadow, cattle drinking at the edge of the pasture and the glorious architecture of a medieval cathedral - but all on a human scale. Paintings like this one have so conditioned our view of rural Britain that it is now difficult to imagine a time when the countryside and country life were not held in such high regard.

Physical description

Painting of Salisbury Cathedral from The Bishop's Ground, with cattle, some drinking from a pond, sheltered by tall trees, and with a man and woman walking along a path on the left hand side. Oil on canvas.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

1823 (made)

Artist/maker

John Constable, born 1776 - died 1837 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height: 87.6 cm estimate, Width: 111.8 cm estimate, Height: 124 cm framed, Width: 150 cm framed, Depth: 17.5 cm framed

Object history note

Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857. Painted by John Constable RA (born in East Bergholt, Suffolk, 1776, died in London, 1837)

Historical context note

In 1823 Constable's chief exhibit at the Royal Academy was 'Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds' (No. 254 [FA 33] in this Catalogue). He visited Fisher in August (see Nos. 256 [281-1888] and 257 [354-1888]) and stayed with Sir George Beaumont at Coleorton from the last week of October until the end of November (see Nos. 259-262 [835-1888, 815-1888, 266-1888, 356-1888]).

[G Reynolds, 1973, p. 156]

Descriptive line

Oil painting by John Constable depicting Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire. Great Britain, 1823.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
No landscape paintings seem more British than Constable's. They are apparently presented with great directness and simplicity. In fact, they were carefully constructed images of an idealised rural life created for urban viewers and patrons. This painting was shown at the Royal Academy in London in 1823. Constable considered it 'the most difficult subject in landscape I ever had on my easel'. [27/03/2003]

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Salisbury Cathedral; Trees; Pond; Cattle; Figures; Cathedral; Buildings; Clouds; Landscapes (representations)

Categories

Images Online; Paintings; British Galleries; Religion; Christianity

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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