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St. Martin's Church, SalisburyEnlarge image

St. Martin's Church, Salisbury, 1820

John Constable
British, 1776 - 1837
graphite on wove paper
11.5 x 18.4 cm
Purchased 1960
National Gallery of Canada (no. 9086)

Many drawings survive from Constable's summer visit to Salisbury in 1820, when he also made the National Gallery's oil sketch that would evolve into his famous "Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds".The present sketch of impetuously executed trees, dark sky, and melancholy graveyard is one of the most dramatic and expressive.The weather during Constable's visit was typically English: thundery and showery. The dark clouds that mass ominously behind St. Martin's Church and the churning leaves of the lime-tree lined avenue indicate that a storm was imminent.The trees on the left are so heavily worked that the lightweight paper is actually abraded from the pressure of the pencil tip, the rhythmic graphite slashings being the equivalent of impasto on an oil sketch.

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