Acquisitions Museums United Kingdom

Tate purchases Constable for £23.1m

Heritage Lottery Fund gives £15.8m, the largest amount of money for a single work in its history, to secure painting for the nation

Bought by Tate: John Constable, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1831

The Tate has acquired John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1831, from the heirs of Lord Ashton of Hyde for £23.1m, considerably less than the £40m it may have cost on the open market. The painting is now due to go on view at the Tate Britain, London, until the end of the year, after which it will travel to four UK partner institutions: Amgueddfa Cymru—National Museum of Wales, the National Galleries of Scotland, Colchester and Ipswich Museums and Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum.

The work had been on loan to the National Gallery of Art, London, since 1983, but the museum was unable to raise funds for the picture when the family decided to sell it. The Tate then stepped in, with major funding provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£15.8, the largest amount of money given by the fund for the purchase of a single work) and the Art Fund (£1m), with an undisclosed amount given by the Manton Foundation and Tate Members. At a press briefing, Tate director Nicholas Serota said that the family had made a “very generous offer” to the museum and that it was “a very simple and straightforward negotiation”.

Widely considered a masterpiece of British art, the work was under threat of being sold to an overseas collection. Serota said he was pleased that the work was now secured for the nation, jovially adding “our friends in Scotland will want us to say ‘for the nations’”.

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24 May 13
11:8 CET


The picture—minus rainbow—is already "saved" in the Guildhall Art Gallery. At one time full-size sketches by Constable were prized more highly than the finished versions.

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