John Constable: Salisbury Cathedral from Bishop's Grounds



John Constable (1776-1837) was an English landscape painter. Before Constable, landscape artists painted from their imagination. The landscape would usually be a backdrop to tell some mythical story. (althought there are some Dutch landscape artists, such as Jacob van Ruisdael) For instance, the 17th century Baroque artist Claude Lorrain. He is known for landscapes but they usually tell some story (see example below). Constable, an admirer of Lorrain, wanted to paint what was around him, to paint scenes of everyday life. Definitely not popular in the"Age of Romanticism." Constable was always looking to develop new techniques to convey light and movement. He would use broken brushstrokes, usually in small dabs to create an impression of sparkling light. He did many studies of skies and clouds and even studied the works of meteorologists of the time.

Although not popular during his lifetime, his work greatly influenced later artists, especially the Impressionists.

"Salisbury Cathedral from Bishop's Grounds" was painted in 1825. It measures 2ft 10 5/8ins x 3ft 87ins and hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Constable did several paintings of this cathedral, each slightly different from the other in terms of sky or perhaps the season of the year. The original was commissioned by the Bishop of Salisbury in 1722 but was rejected because he felt the sky was too dark. On the left is the Bishop and his wife walking.

This particular version is considered unfinished. Another version came the following year and hangs in the Frick Museum in New York.

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