Collection Online
oil on paper on cardboard
30.0 × 48.8 cm
inscribed in pen and ink on paper label on reverse c.r.: 5 Sepr (. under r) 1822. / 10 o clock Morng. looking South-East. / very brisk wind at West. / very bright + fresh Grey (inverted v under Grey) Clouds running very fast / over a yellow bed. about half way in the sky / very appropriate for the Coast. at Osmington.
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1938
© Public Domain
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Gallery location
18th & 19th Century Decorative Arts & Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

Possibly exhibited Paterson Gallery, 1828; collection of Charles Robert Leslie (1794–1859), by 1843; included in the Charles Robert Leslie estate sale, Foster's, London, 25-28 April 1860, no. 86 (17 Sky studies); collection of Sir Michael Sadler (1861–1943), London, before 1938; with Spink and Son (dealer), London, 1938; from where acquired, on the advice of Sir Sydney Cockerell, for the Felton Bequest, 1938.

Exhibited John Constable, the Natural Painter: 62 Paintings and Drawings from Great Collections, Auckland City Art Gallery, Auckland; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1973–74, no. 27; Constable: Paintings, Watercolours and Drawings, Tate Gallery, London, 1976, no. 207; Constable’s Skies, Salander-O’Reilly, New York, 2004, no. 27.


Clouds is one of around fifty extant paintings of the sky which Constable made in Hampstead, between 1821 and 1822, and it has been speculated that he produced more than one hundred such studies at the time. Constable made his intense examination, which he called ‘skying’, to precisely record different weather and atmospheric conditions, in preparation for his grand landscapes. He considered the sky of paramount importance to landscape painting, and in a letter of 1821 to his close friend John Fisher, he wrote: ‘It will be difficult to name a class of landscape in which the sky is not the keynote, the standard of scale, and the chief organ of sentiment … The sky is the source of light in Nature, and governs everything’. ‘Skying’ was so critical to Constable, that his approach was scientifically methodical, which is borne out by his inscription on the back of Clouds.