Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows: the Rainbow is based on one of the celebrated English artist John Constable's most important paintings, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows of 1831. Constable selected the printmaker David Lucas to make a portfolio of mezzotint engravings based on his paintings and drawings. These prints, which acted as a kind of survey of his oeuvre, fulfilled Constable's desire for his work to reach an expanded audience. The portfolio, which eventually comprised twenty-two plates, was begun in 1829 and first published by Constable in 1830 as Various subjects of landscape, characteristic of English Scenery, from Pictures Painted by John Constable RA. Several versions followed, the final portfolio appearing in 1838, one year after Constable's death.
Constable was actively involved with the production of the mezzotints and frequently revised Lucas's proofs, often drawing directly on prints and making other such modifications. Of principal concern was that the prints convey his theory of chiaroscuro. Mezzotints were perfectly suited to this, as the prints have a deep tonal range and a lush black velvety hue, which allowed Lucas to translate the stunning effects of light and shadow found in Constable's landscape paintings into print form.