Cloud Study

Constable completed his cloud studies quickly—often in less than an hour—working outdoors and painting directly on sheets of paper affixed to a board (pinholes are visible in the bottom corners of this sheet). These works gave the artist a greater understanding of how light, shade, and color could be used to represent the sky in various atmospheric conditions. He referred to these studies later, when painting finished landscapes in his studio.


Constable family, by descent, sold to T. Maclean, 1896, as agent for Kay; Arthur Kay (from 1896);¹ H. A. J. Munro of Novar; Capt. Briscoe, Longstowe Hall, sold to Leggatt’s; [Leggatt’s, London, sold to Manton, 2 June 1958]; Sir Edwin A. G. Manton, New York (1958–d. 2005); Manton Family Art Foundation (2005–7, given to the Clark); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2007.

1. The early provenance comes from an inscription on the back of the stretcher which reads: “Study of Sky (from Nature) / by John Constable RA Bought with a sketchbook / (thro T. Maclean) direct from the Constable Family 1896 / Arthur Kay.”

John Constable

English, 1776–1837

Cloud Study

c. 1821–22

Oil on cream laid paper, mounted on canvas

10 13/16 x 12 7/8 in. (27.5 x 32.7 cm) Stretcher: 10 7/8 x 13 1/4 in. (27.6 x 33.7 cm)

Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007




Lees, Sarah, ed. Nineteenth-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; New Haven and London: distributed by Yale University Press, 2012.

Clarke, Jay, ed. Landscape, Innovation, and Nostalgia: The Manton Collection of British Art. Williamstown, MA: The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2012.