Constable masterpiece Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows 1831 is to go on show at Ipswich’s Christchurch Mansion

John Constable Salisbury Catherdral from the Meadows 1831

John Constable Salisbury Catherdral from the Meadows 1831 - Credit: Archant

One of Suffolk artist John Constable’s finest works is coming home.

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows 1831 goes on show at Ipswich’s Christchurch Mansion, the closest major gallery to Constable country, from February 7 to January 31 next year.

It will complement the town’s collection of Constables - the most significant collection of works by him outside London - and be the first time one of his major six-footers have been on display here. There will also be events and workshops for all ages surrounding the year-long exhibition.

The painting shows the cathedral under both a heavy cloud and arched rainbow viewed from across the River Nadder. The scene has been interpreted as a metaphor for political pressure felt by the Church of England as well as the emotional turmoil Constable was feeling after the death of his wife.

The East Bergholt born artist is famous for his landscapes, many of which feature the Suffolk countryside where he grew up. He made many open-air sketches, using these as a basis for his large exhibition paintings.

One of his five preliminary oil sketches made for Salisbury Cathedral From The Meadows 1831 was recently discovered.

Thought to be by one of his followers rather than him, the 18in by 24in picture, entitled Salisbury Cathedral From The Meadows, was sold at Christie’s in London in 2013 for £3,500.

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The unidentified buyer later suspected it had been painted over in parts. Restored and the added brushstrokes removed, examination identified it as a lost work which is expected to fetch between £1.3million and £1.9m at Southeby’s in New York on January 29.

The famous piece coming to Ipswich was secured through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), The Manton Foundation, the Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation) and Tate Members.

The exhibition is part of Aspire, a five-year partnership project between five partner institutions supported by the HLF and the Art Fund to enable the work to go on almost constant view across the UK.

Councillor Bryony Rudkin, Ipswich Borough Council’s culture portfolio-holder, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this true masterpiece of British art here at the Mansion. We are proud to be part of the Aspire programme, which makes the work widely accessible to audiences across the UK – something which Constable himself sought.

“There will be a special education programme to support the display and we hope this will encourage audiences to learn more about this painting and this artist, who had such close links with Ipswich and the surrounding area.”

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