Impressionism and Open-Air Painting

Skies and clouds

The depiction of the sky had been a subject of interest to art theoreticians since the time of Leonardo. However, it was in the 18th and early 19th centuries that the custom of executing cloud studies became widespread, and examples exist by French and German artists who trained in Italy. It was the English painter Constable, however, who undertook the most systematic observation of the heavens in his quest for a greater integration of sky and landscape in his major compositions. Indeed, he painted more than one hundred studies of clouds during his two principal painting campaigns in Hampstead between 1820 and 1822. Another important sky painter was Boudin, who influenced artists such as Courbet and Monet. Among the Impressionists, however, it was Sisley who conceded most importance to skies and clouds, following the example of Constable. This room concludes with works by Van Gogh and Nolde, whose paintings reflect a stylised, subjective and almost abstract conception of clouds.


John Constable Rainstorm over the Sea, c. 1824-8

Óleo on paper laid on canvas. 23.5 x 32.6 cm.
Royal Academy of Arts, London

Landscape under a Stormy Sky

Vicent Van Gogh Landscape under a Stormy Sky, 1889

Oil on canvas.59.5 x 70 cm.
Courtesy Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Fondation Socindec. Martigny, Switzerland

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