A few crayon studies of clouds without landscape were made in 1819 (see TG 1976 Nos 169–72) but no ‘pure’ sky studies in oil carry dates before 1821 and none of the larger ones is dated before 1822.
Meteorological evidence apparently also supports the dating of No.22 to 1822 rather than 1821.
Cloud Study 1822 Oil on paper, 18 11/16×22 15/16 (47.5×57.5), laid down on synthetic board 1966 (originally laid down on millboard backed with the same paper as used for the top surface). Prov: ...; John Robertson Reid (1851–1926); his sister Flora Macdonald Reid by December 1927 (when recorded in the National Gallery's copy of Holmes 1902: see Davies 1959); sold by her executors, Sotheby's 12 December 1945 (130), bt. Thornes, The Accurate Dating of Certain of John Constable's Cloud Studies 1821/22 Using Historical Weather Records, University College London, Department of Geography, Occasional Papers No.34, 1978, pp.12–13, 27; Hoozee 1979, No.340.
Inscribed by the artist in pencil on the original backing paper, now separately preserved: ‘27 aug 11, o clock Noon looking Eastward large silvery [? Bode;...; acquired from Agnew's 1952 and presented anonymously to the National Gallery in memory of Miss Diana White 1952; transferred to the Tate Gallery 1961. In the years 18 Constable made an intensive study of skies at Hampstead, producing a large number of oil sketches showing clouds either alone or with a fringe of trees, buildings, etc. On 7 October 1822 he told Fisher that he had recently made ‘about 50 carefull studies of skies tolerably large’ (JCC VI, p.98).
None of these studies, nor the final piece, were done from life.