‘The Great Salisbury’

Constable in Context: Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows in perspective, The Salisbury Museum, The King’s House, 65 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EN, until 25th March 2017

 

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1831 John Constable (1776 - 1837) © Tate, London 2013 Purchased with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Manton Foundation, Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation) and Tate Members

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1831
John Constable (1776 – 1837) © Tate, London 2013 Purchased with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Manton Foundation, Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation) and Tate Members

John Constable called this painting ‘The Great Salisbury’ and also wrote ‘I am told I got it to look better than anything I have yet done.’ Well, I certainly am not going to disagree with him there. It was secured for the Nation by the Tate through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), The Manton Foundation, the Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation) and Tate Members and will tour the UK as part of ‘Aspire’.

The City & Cathedral of Salisbury from Harnham Hill, 1955 Lord Methuen © The Salisbury Museum

The City & Cathedral of Salisbury from Harnham Hill, 1955
Lord Methuen © The Salisbury Museum

One of his ‘six footer’ canvases it is a tour-de-force and its radical style was a turning point for many artists who copied Constable’s “expressive” style for architectural subjects. The Museum in this fascinating exhibition has made the painting the centrepiece of a show which focuses on images of the Cathedral from the 17th century up to this century, including works by Henrick de Cort, Frederick Nash, Frederick MacKenzie and JMW Turner.

West Front of Salisbury Cathedral, 1900 Albert Goodwin © The Salisbury Museum

West Front of Salisbury Cathedral, 1900
Albert Goodwin © The Salisbury Museum

The Museum’s Marketing Officer, Louise Tunnard, sums it up well saying: “Salisbury Cathedral is one of the most significant and memorable buildings in England – so many of us have direct memories of this building that will always be treasured. Just in the same way that you never forget your first view of the sea, people do not tend to forget their first view of the Cathedral. The impact this building has had on artists and their subsequent urge to record it for posterity, has provided us with an amazing record of the building over time.

The irony is that as human beings, having seen something we then tend to stop looking closely at it, but I hope this exhibition will encourage residents of Salisbury and visitors alike, to really look at the Cathedral building and see how lucky we are to live and work alongside such a wonderful structure.”

Salisbury Cathedral from the West, 1671 Wesceslaus Hollar © The Salisbury Museum

Salisbury Cathedral from the West, 1671
Wesceslaus Hollar © The Salisbury Museum

I couldn’t agree more. The Cathedral is such a special place and whenever I go to Salisbury it is the first place I visit to wonder and marvel anew.  Constable obviously felt the same way too – thank goodness!

Kate Giles and her painting after John Constable. Courtesy of Salisbury Museum

Kate Giles and her painting after John Constable.
Courtesy of Salisbury Museum

http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/

http://www.tate.org.uk

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