The sea is the star of the show, so to speak, in a seascape painting. However, the area of the artwork that shows the sky and the clouds in particular is just as important. For the viewer not to give these elements enough attention is to do the painting and its creator a huge disservice.

Based on their shapes and colours, clouds indicate the atmospheric condiitions under which the sea moves and changes its appearance. They also serve as a kind of time stamp on the scene depicted. More importantly, from the aesthetic perspective, clouds and the rest of the sky contribute to the atmosphere of the work — that is, its pervading tone or mood.

The following seascapes show various kinds of clouds (click here to learn more about cloud types). As with any artwork, these paintings are best viewed in full-screen.

Clouds over the sea, calm, 1889
Ivan Ayvazovsky (Russian, 1817–1900)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Seascape with Open Sky, 1860
Eugène Boudin (French, 1824-1898)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Beach at Sainte-Adresse, 1867
Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926)
Courtesy of the Google Art Institute

Cloud Study over the Sea
Hans Gude (Norwegian, 1825-1903)
Courtesy of Nasjonalmuseet (National Museum, Norway)

This unique learning aid from the UCAR Center for Science Education in Colorado, USA, uses paintings by famous artists to promote a better understanding of clouds.

Click on the image to download. >>>

Gathering Storm, 1899
Ivan Ayvazovsky (Russian, 1817–1900)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Clearing Up–Coast of Sicily, 1847
Andreas Achenbach (German, 1815–1910)
Courtesy of The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland

Sunset on the Sea, 1872
John Frederick Kensett (American, 1816–1872)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Moonlight on Ocean (Kauai), c. 1918
Alfred Richard Gurrey, Sr. (English-born American, 1852-1944)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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