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Study of Clouds with a Sunset near Rome by Simon Alexandre Clément Denis

Study of Clouds with a Sunset near Rome, 1786

Simon Alexandre Clément Denis

Dark, swirling clouds loom over a narrow strip of land, gently punctuated by far-off trees and a city skyline. This painting shows Rome, threatened by a late-afternoon rainstorm, but the real subject is the awe-inspiring clouds. The artist used a warm palette, juxtaposing light and dark tones to imply both the clouds' airy buoyancy and moisture-laden heaviness. Lively brushstrokes convey the constantly shifting forces of wind and light. This painting is one in a series of cloud studies — in fact the 48th — the artist made to hone his observational and painting skills.

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