Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Ground thumbnail 1
Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Ground thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Paintings, Room 87, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries

Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Ground

Oil Painting
1823 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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
Dr John Fisher, Bishop of Salisbury, commissioned this painting in 1820. He and his family were some of Constable's closest friends and the artist taught one of his daughters. There has been some confusion over the identities of the figures in the painting but they are now thought to be the Bishop and his wife at the gate, and the figure a little further down the path, one of their daughters, probably Dolly. 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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
oil on canvas
Brief Description
Oil painting by John Constable depicting Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire. Great Britain, 1823.
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.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 87.6cm
  • Estimate width: 111.8cm
  • Framed height: 124cm
  • Framed width: 150cm
  • Framed depth: 17.5cm
Dimensions taken from Catalogue of the Constable Collection, Graham Reynolds, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1973
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
(Signed and inscribed, lower left; the inscription is no longer legible.)
Gallery Label
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)
Credit line
Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857
Object history
Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857. Painted by John Constable RA (born in East Bergholt, Suffolk, 1776, died in London, 1837)
Historical context
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]
Subjects depicted
Place Depicted
Summary
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
Dr John Fisher, Bishop of Salisbury, commissioned this painting in 1820. He and his family were some of Constable's closest friends and the artist taught one of his daughters. There has been some confusion over the identities of the figures in the painting but they are now thought to be the Bishop and his wife at the gate, and the figure a little further down the path, one of their daughters, probably Dolly. 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.
Bibliographic References
  • Baker, Malcolm, and Brenda Richardson (eds.), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1999.
  • Parris, Leslie and Fleming-Williams, Ian. Constable London : The Tate Gallery, 1991no.140
  • Gray, Anne and John Gage, Constable: impressions of land, sea and sky, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2006
  • Graham Reynolds, Catalogue of the Constable Collection, London: HMSO, 1973, pp. 155-164
  • Evans, M., with N. Costaras and C. Richardson, John Constable. Oil Sketches from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A, 2011, p. 22, fig. 17.
  • Timothy Wilcox, Constable and Salisbury. The Soul of Landscape London: Scala Publishers Ltd, 2011. ISBN: 978 1 85759 678 6.
Other Number
254, plate 192 - Reynolds catalogue no.
Collection
Accession Number
FA.33[O]

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record createdFebruary 28, 2001
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