Bishop 'delighted' by sale of John Constable painting

The Bishop of Salisbury has welcomed the sale of a John Constable painting featuring the cathedral in a deal arranged by Tate Gallery.

'Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows' was bought from private owners for £23.1 million.

Under the deal, the Tate will exhibit the work in turn with the National Museum of Wales, the National Galleries of Scotland, the Colchester and Ipswich Museums, and the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum.

The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam said he was "delighted" that the painting had been "saved for the nation".

"When they visited Salisbury John Constable and his wife, Maria, stayed in the home of their friend Bishop John Fisher. That is why there are a number of paintings by Constable of the cathedral. This painting is perhaps the greatest of them and is one of the nation's favourite paintings," he said.

"In it the cathedral's spire rises with soaring hope above dark storm clouds and the rainbow over the cathedral speaks of God's covenant with all the earth. It still speaks strongly of the purpose and hope of our cathedral."

The painting is due to go on display at the South Wiltshire Museum in 2016.

The Dean of Salisbury, June Osborne, said cathedral staff were looking forward to having the painting on display so close to home.

"Salisbury Cathedral is one of England's best loved buildings and Constable's views of the cathedral are universally recognised," she said.

"They speak to us of the Christian legacy of this nation and the conviction of so many down the ages that God has both blessed and watched over our land.

"It is marvellous news that this cherished image has been secured as a national treasure and the enjoyment of seeing it will bring enormous pleasure to many people.

"We very much look forward to welcoming it back to Salisbury in 2016. It will be a happy homecoming."