Distant View of Salisbury Cathedral

Constable visited Salisbury, in the southwest of England, throughout his career, staying with his friend Archdeacon John Fisher and painting views of the cathedral. This sketch shows the cathedral’s spire in the distance, dominating the landscape. The inscription—“painted on the spot / Nov. 19th 1821”—underlines the artist’s practice of making small-scale studies directly from nature.


Captain Charles Golding Constable, son of the artist (d. 1879); Mrs. A. M. Constable, his wife, by descent (1879–90, sale, Christie’s, London, 23 June 1890, no. 75, as Salisbury, Painted on the spot, Nov. 19, 1821, sold to Dowdeswell);¹ Dowdeswell Gallery, London, from 1890]; Major Henry Lee Higginson, Boston (d. 1919); Alexander Higginson, Boston, by descent (from 1919); Mr. and Mrs. L. Denis Peterkin, Andover (by 1939); [Clyfford Trevor, New York, in 1945, sold to Clark, 19 Feb. 1945]; Robert Sterling Clark (1945–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.

1. Mrs. A. M. Constable lent the picture to the South Kensington Museum, London, from 1880 to 1883. See Graham Reynolds, The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, 1984, vol. 1, no. 21.74, p. 87.

John Constable

English, 1776–1837

Distant View of Salisbury Cathedral


Oil on panel

6 13/16 x 10 1/16 in. (17.3 x 25.6 cm)

Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1945