UK museums partnership saves Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral painting

. May 24, 2013

One of the greatest masterpieces of British art, Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows 1831, has been secured for the British public through major grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£15.8 million), the Art Fund (£1 million), a very substantial donation from The Manton Foundation, and Tate Members.

John Constable, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, exhibited 1831. Oil on canvas, 151.8 x 189.9 mm. Purchased by Tate with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Manton Foundation the Art Fund and Tate Members in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales, Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service, National Galleries of Scotland; and Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum. 2013.

John Constable, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, exhibited 1831. Oil on canvas, 151.8 x 189.9 mm. Purchased by Tate with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Manton Foundation the Art Fund and Tate Members in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales, Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service, National Galleries of Scotland; and Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum. 2013.


The acquisition is part of a ground-breaking new partnership, called Aspire, between five national and regional galleries: Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales; the National Galleries of Scotland; Colchester and Ipswich Museums; Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum; and Tate Britain. The partnership will enable the work, owned by Tate, to go on almost constant view in partner venues across the UK. From today it will go on view in the Constable room at Tate Britain until the end of the year before being shown at the five national and regional galleries participating in the programme.

The work has been acquired for the special price of £23.1 million with tax concessions, equivalent to an open market sale of £40 million. The acquisition has been made possible through the most generous collaboration of the children of the late Lord Ashton of Hyde and purchased through the London fine art agents Robert Holden Ltd. The painting had previously been on view at The National Gallery on long-term loan since 1983.

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows is one of a series of monumental ‘six-footer’ canvases painted by the artist. This was the scale he reserved for his finest compositions, the painting she wished to make a great impact in the crowded, competitive hang of the Royal Academy exhibitions. This work is the most visually spectacular of all the ‘six footers’, the most loaded in meaning and the one of which he was most proud. Constable called it ‘The Great Salisbury’ and wrote “I am told I got it to look better than anything I have yet done”.

An image of the painting and colouring sheet, along with other related activities will be available online on Tate Kids (kids.tate.org.uk). They will allow children to explore the painting in closer detail. www.tate.org.uk

Category: Fine Art

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