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Jean-Michel Cels, 'Sky Study with Birds', 1842

Key facts
Full title Sky Study with Birds
Artist Jean-Michel Cels
Artist dates 1819 - 1894
Date made 1842
Medium and support Oil and chalk on paper laid on canvas
Dimensions 26.6 × 37.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit The Gere Collection, on long-term loan to the National Gallery
Inventory number L808
Location Room 42
Image copyright The Gere Collection, on long-term loan to the National Gallery, © Private collection 2000. Used by permission
Collection Main Collection
Sky Study with Birds
Jean-Michel Cels

Artists had made 'plein-air' or open-air studies of the sky since the 17th century. It was recommended practice that artists should sketch the changing patterns in the sky at several times of day and in various weather conditions, in order to capture it in all its moods. Here Cels has painted billowing clouds against a blue sky, with two birds wheeling in the breeze.

The inscription on the reverse indicates that the pigment was thinned with a kind of turpentine.

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