In art, a cloudscape is the depiction of a view of clouds or the sky. Usually, as in the examples seen here, the clouds are depicted as viewed from the earth, often including just enough of a landscape to suggest scale, orientation, weather conditions, and distance (through the application of the technique of aerial perspective).
A highly complex cloudscape—as in some works of J. M. W. Turner, for example—within an otherwise conventional landscape painting, can sometimes seem like an abstract painting-within-a-painting, nearly obliterating the realistic setting with a grand display of gestural force. Some critics have explicitly cited 19th century cloudscapes and seascapes as precursors of the work of some abstract expressionist artists.
In 1796, Turner exhibited Fishermen at Sea, his first oil painting at the academy, of a nocturnal moonlit scene of the Needles off the Isle of Wight. The image of boats in peril contrasts the cold light of the moon with the firelight glow of the fishermen’s lantern. Wilton said that the image: “Is a summary of all that had been said about the sea by the artists of the 18th century.”Some later work, however, was created to rival or complement the manner of the Dutch artist. The image was praised by contemporary critics and founded Turner’s reputation, as both an oil painter and a painter of maritime scenes.