Constable masterpiece bought for the nation

  • 23 May 2013

We've helped Tate to buy John Constable's iconic six-foot landscape Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows on behalf of five museums.

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1831 Courtesy of Tate

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1831

Sunshine and showers battle it out creating a dramatic visual tension, the cathedral’s spire pierces the foreboding sky while an elegant rainbow softens the scene: Constable's painting of Salisbury Cathedral is one of the artist's most recognisable and emotional landscapes and has been secured for the nation thanks to major grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£15.8 million), the Art Fund (£1million), a very substantial donation from The Manton Foundation, and Tate Members.

A monumental work by one of Britain's most celebrated landscape artists, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows was made following the death, in 1828, of the artist’s wife when Constable turned to the church for solace. The painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition in 1831 and later in regional exhibitions in Worcester and Birmingham as directed by Constable who wanted the work to be seen by as many people as possible, 'I have no doubt of this picture being my best now', he wrote in July 1834.

Explore the painting with our interactive image map and enjoy a guide to the work by Amy Concannon, Assistant Curator at Tate Britain.

Aspire programme


“It's a great pleasure to have helped Tate and its four partner museums make this happen”

  • Stephen Deuchar
  • Director of the Art Fund

As part of an innovative sharing arrangement with four museums, the painting will be on display across the UK for the next five years. You can see this magnificent work in the Constable room at Tate Britain before being seen in regional galleries participating in the Aspire programme. These are Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales; National Galleries of Scotland; Colchester and Ipswich Museums, Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum and Tate Britain.

The painting will be seen by visitors from across the UK in exhibitions and displays that include the partner venue’s existing collection and reflect the individual context of each site. After the initial five year period all the partners will continue to have special access to the painting for their exhibitions, while ensuring that this extraordinary work is lent to other institutions so that it can be enjoyed by a wide public in the UK and beyond.