French Website

Share |

John Constable (1776 – 1837).

John Constable. The Cathedral of Salisbury. (1825). 

To send this page to a friend

To send this page to a friend

 HomePage  Newsletter  Analysis   Movements  Painters  Kinds  Techniques  History   Museums  Exposures   Galleries   Artists   Plays  Advertisements  Shop  Contact us     Who are us?  Bonds  

John Constable. The Cathedral of Salisbury. (1825). Oil on canevas. 88 x 112 cm. 

The official name of the cathedral of Salisbury is the cathedral of Holy Marie. Its arrow is highest of the United Kingdom, its cloister is vastest of England. As from 1820, John Constable, while being inspired very largely landscapes by its native area Suffolk, starts to widen the choice of its subjects, in particular at the time of its stays with Salisbury. Familiar of the cathedral which it paints throughout its career, it represents it here very luminous and sunny. In the foreground water, cows and a couple visiting the places. With the background the very luminous building. The glance of the spectator is guided towards the arrow of the cathedral by the foliage of the trees, the cathedral is detached in front of a very realistic sky from an immense blue. This production made up of different plan evokes the pictures of Claude le Lorrain or the characters are often located in front of the Landscape. This technique makes it possible to animate work and gives prospect and depth of field on this majestic 

The point of view of the spectator is immediately attracted towards the alive. As there is action in the foreground the glance is delayed there a little but it is then quickly guided by the site of the trees, which form a framework, towards the luminous arrow of the cathedral. 
The body of the building is located on the lower horizontal tension field. 
The arrow is close to the right vertical tension field, near 2 natural points of interests. 

Comme dans les toiles du Lorrain l’avant plan est utilisé comme une scène de théâtre pour mettre en valeur le second plan.
The orientation of the branches and the foliage of the trees guide the glance of the spectator towards the arrow of the cathedral. 
Each detail of this Gothic cathedral is represented with an extreme meticulousness.
The arrow of the cathedral has a 123 meters height. It is not only highest of England but it is also highest of the arrows built before 1400 always upright in the world. 
The couple in the foreground on the left is the bishop of Salisbury John Fisher accompanied by his wife. He is the silent partner of the picture.

The cows drinking and to feed in the foreground give a rather bucolic and pastoral note to work. All this is voluntary, the goal of the artist is to remove the sacred character from the scene. Imposing dimension and the monumentality of such a building could quite simply crush the picture. 

Light : The light comes from bottom and of the right-hand side, it concentrates especially on the building, in the manner of a projector. The foreground is relatively dark. 
Harmonize and Contrasts : Contraste entre complémentaires. 
The carryforward of the colors used to prepare the table on the chromatic circle indicates an opposition between hot colors and cold colors. A contrast between complementary colors.
Toiles similaires : 
Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows. John Constable. (1831).
The cathedral seen of the back in the middle of the fields, with a superb sky and a rainbow arc in sky which seems to present it. 

View of Salisbury. John Constable. (1820). Du même artiste une vue de Salisbury où la flèche de la cathédrale est bien visible. 

The Church of Marissel, Beauvais. Camille Corot. (1866). This picture of Camille Corot takes again the same principles. A water level and characters in the foreground, a line of trees which guide the glance to the building. Click to see the analysis.