Image: detail of John Constable, Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, from the Meadows (1831) © Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London Corporation

*This exhibition is now closed*

The exhibition provided an in-depth examination of John Constable's fascination with weather and its ability to change a landscape – both in mood and physical appearance. He produced the majority of his weather studies in the early 1820s when he was living in Hampstead, a location that greatly influenced his scientific approach towards painting cloud formations as it was an open space with a wide expanse of sky. At this time Constable deepened his scientific knowledge of the weather by reading published pamphlets such as 'Essay on the Modification of Clouds' (1803) by Luke Howard and 'Researches about Atmospheric Phenomena' (1815) by Thomas Forster. Original copies of these essays were displayed in the exhibition next to examples of Constable's cloud studies which will provide visitors with an exclusive insight to how these academic studies influenced his artistic practice.

John Constable, Study of Sky and Trees, oil on paper, c.1821 © The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The exhibition also highlighted Constable's scientific approach in depicting landscapes and seascapes. Constable improved his artwork by painting in the same place at different times of the day or in different weather conditions. He would return on numerous occasions to his favoured locations such as Hampstead, Salisbury Cathedral and Dedham Vale – all of which featured in 'Observing the Weather', and quickly sketch the same landscape to demonstrate the dramatic effect differing conditions have on light and colour.

These sketches were not originally intended to be shown publicly but were produced by Constable in various mediums and sizes to use as a reference for his large finished works. Constable recorded his thoughts on the weather on the backs of many of these studies. On 'Cloud Study, Hampstead' (1821), he noted that the conditions were 'morning under the sun – clouds silvery grey, on warm ground sultry. Light wind to the SW fine all day – but rain in the night following'. This exhibition brought together examples of these studies in different mediums, including works in pencil, watercolour, mezzotint and oils on both paper and canvas.

13 February 2016 – 8 May 2016