Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds, ca. 1825
John Constable (English, 1776–1837)
Oil on canvas; 34 5/8 x 44 in. (87.9 x 111.8 cm)
Bequest of Mary Stillman Harkness, 1950 (50.145.8)
In 1822, John Fisher, bishop of Salisbury, commissioned John Constable to paint the version of this composition now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. (Fisher and his wife are visible at lower left in all versions of the composition.) In July 1824, he asked Constable to revise it, whereupon the present canvas was begun. Infrared reflectography reveals that it started with an outline traced from the first version, and that the artist then improvised directly on the canvas, painting in the sky and opening up the foliage arching over the south transept to give the spire a more dominant role in the composition. In Constable's estate sale, this work was described as "nearly finished." It is indeed a study for the final version, completed in 1826 (Frick Collection, New York).