National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Salisbury Cathedral from Lower Marsh Close John Constable (artist)
British, 1776 - 1837
Salisbury Cathedral from Lower Marsh Close, 1820
oil on canvas
overall: 73 x 91 cm (28 3/4 x 35 13/16 in.) framed: 97.1 x 115.6 x 10.7 cm (38 1/4 x 45 1/2 x 4 3/16 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1937.1.108
On View
From the Tour: Constable and Turner — British Landscapes of the Early 1800s
Object 2 of 11

Constable frequently depicted Salisbury’s famous spire, which, at 404 feet, is the tallest in England. Piercing the air, the lofty steeple attracts attention to the atmosphere around it. One of Constable’s main interests was portraying the weather—a process he called “skying.”

When the Gothic cathedral was finished in the 1300s, its grounds were walled or enclosed; this Close forms a lush, marshy park. The couple strolling through the Close’s avenue of elms may be John Fisher, the Archbishop of Salisbury, and his wife. Their nephew, an archdeacon and art patron, was Constable’s closest friend. This personal souvenir, kept by the artist, freshly observes the sunshine dappling the lawn. With long shadows falling from the west, the time is early evening. The canvas was executed spontaneously on the spot, and its brown underpainted layer is still visible beneath the trees.

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