Constable, JohnLandscape with Clouds

Landscape with Clouds
Oil painting on paper on board by John Constable (1776-1837)

John Constable was fascinated by the British weather and his meticulous studies of the effects of light and the conditions that influenced the planet’s atmosphere, lead him to regard landscape painting as a science.
The view represented in this painting is of the Rectory in East Bergholt, which could be seen from the rear of the Constable family home. Constable captures a moment in time through his genuine representation of the clouds in the sky on a day that could be described as windy, brisk or fresh.
This is one of approximately 50 pure sky studies that the artist produced in 1822. During this time, meteorology, which is the study of the conditions in the atmosphere used for weather forecasting, was being investigated and Constable became the first artist to accurately record cloud formations in his paintings. In 1821 the artist wrote “I have done a good deal of skying…” Fervently recording his observations of clouds and skies on scraps of paper, Constable planned to piece them together by devising a lecture which he hoped to deliver in Hampstead. Constable was interested in the idea of the sky casting a mood over the landscape below it and so understanding the weather became essential to his artistic practice. He viewed the sky as an opportunity for creative expression, pitched against the solidarity of the static landscape.