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John Constable, Salisbury Cathedral and Leadenhall from the River Avon

Key facts
Full title Salisbury Cathedral and Leadenhall from the River Avon
Artist John Constable
Artist dates 1776 - 1837
Date made 1820
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 52.7 × 77 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2651
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Salisbury Cathedral and Leadenhall from the River Avon
John Constable

Constable painted Salisbury Cathedral many times from different viewpoints. Some of these pictures were oil sketches made outdoors like this one, while others were large pictures intended for exhibition. This sketch was created during Constable’s six-week visit to Salisbury in the summer of 1820.

The view is from the further bank of the River Avon, looking east across the meadows and the backs of houses in the Close surrounding the spired Cathedral. On the right is Leadenhall, where Constable and his family were staying with his friend, Archdeacon John Fisher. The warm buff-coloured ground (the underlying layer of paint used to prepare the canvas) shows through the paint of the sky, and has been left exposed in many places in the foliage and foreground. The flicks, dots and dashes of thick unblended paint, which make up the figures and reflections on the water, reveal the spontaneity and freshness of Constable’s technique.

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