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John Constable, 1776–1837

A Cloud Study, Sunset

Former Title(s):

Cloud Study, Sunset

ca. 1821
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on paper on millboard
6 x 9 1/2 inches (15.2 x 24.1 cm), Frame: 11 × 14 1/4 inches (27.9 × 36.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
blue | clouds | gray (color) | light | meteorology | mountains | purple | science | sky | sun | sunset
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

John Constable made his cloud studies in a concentrated burst of activity while living in Hampstead, north London, in the early 1820s. It was the first time he had devoted himself exclusively to skies, even though he had been painting directly from nature since 1802. The inscriptions on some of these cloud studies indicate that they took at least an hour to paint, and he seems to have used a specially prepared paper fitted to the lid of his paint box. As Constable explained at the end of his career: “I am greatly mistaken if every landscape painter will not acknowledge that his most serene hours have been spent in open air, with his palette in his hand.” Nevertheless, no painting, however rapidly worked, can capture something as transient as a cloud, and these studies should be seen as the result of Constable’s long contemplation of skies rather than as straightforward renderings of actual passing cloud formations.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2022

The Critique of Reason : Romantic Art, 1760–1860 (Yale University Art Gallery, 2015-03-06 - 2015-07-26) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Presences of Nature - British Landscape 1780-1830 (Yale Center for British Art, 1982-10-20 - 1983-02-27) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

John Constable - A Selection of Paintings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon (National Gallery of Art, 1969-04-30 - 1969-11-01) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Painting in England 1700-1850 - From The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon (Yale University Art Gallery, 1965-04-15 - 1965-06-20) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 60-61, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Louis Hawes, Presences of Nature : British Landscape, 1780-1830, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1982, pp. 172-3, no. IV.25, pl. 147, ND1354.4 H38 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Robert Hoozee, L'opera completa di Constable, 98, Rizzoli, Milano, Italy, 1979, pp. 122-23, no. 359, NJ18 C74 A12 +H66 (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Constable : a selection of paintings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, , National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 1969, pp. 36-37, no. 34, NJ18 C74 U5 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Painting in England 1700-1850 : collection of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon : Exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, , 1,2, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, 1963, p. 81 (v.1), no. 109, pl. 34 (v.2), ND466 V57 v.1-2 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Painting in England 1700-1850 from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, The Royal Academy of Arts Winter Exhibition 1964-65., , Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK, 1964, p. 25 [v.1], no. 78, ND466 R68 1964/65 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Graham Reynolds, The later paintings and drawings of John Constable, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1984, p.112 (v.1), no. 22.61, pl. 383 (v.2), NJ18 C74 R485 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Yale University Art Gallery, Painting in England, 1700-1850, from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon : [exhibition at] Yale University Art Gallery, April 15-June 20, 1965, , vol. 1, W. Clowes and sons, New Haven, 1965, p. 12 (v.1), no. 41, ND466 Y35 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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