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Constable’s oil studies of skies show a remarkable understanding of the structure and movement of clouds. Most also give a good impression of their three-dimensional volume.
The studies vary in size. This is one of only four examples he painted on a larger format. The larger the scale the more difficult Constable found it to balance crispness of detail with speed of execution. This is why the larger cloud studies tend to be more generalised. The inscriptions on the back – ‘11 o’clock’ and ‘Noon’ – indicate that this study took him about an hour to paint.

February 2004