Following his journey to Italy in 1820–21, during which he developed a spontaneous, sketchlike style of painting, Dahl carried out a series of cloud studies in Dresden. It seems likely that his friend Carus had given him the idea to paint this motif, on the basis of Luke Howard’s cloud theories. In this study with its uncommonly sure, free brushwork, Dahl captured the threatening build-up of clouds above the castle tower. A few touches of paint were all he needed to show the tower catching the light of the sun as it breaks through the clouds. The seething drama of the stormclouds serves as a Romantic symbol of the power of nature at the same time as being a perfectly neutral observation of meteorological phenomena. With these small studies of daringly selected details Dahl was treading a path that was already showing the way towards the principles of plein air painting.


  • Title: Stormclouds over the Castle Tower in Dresden
  • Creator: Johan Christian Clausen Dahl
  • Date Created: around 1825
  • Physical Dimensions: w22.0 x h21.0 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Technique and material: Oil on paper, stretched on cardboard
  • Inv.-No.: A III 831
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-815114
  • External link: Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Prestel Verlag / Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Photo: © b p k - Photo Agency / Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Andres Kilger
  • Collection: Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Artist biography: Johan Christian Clausen Dahl was a Norwegian landscape painter and exponent of the Romantic movement. He started his training as a decorative artist and later went to Copenhagen where he entered the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1811. His master was Christian August Lorentzen and he was deeply influenced by the works of Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg and Jens Juel. During the summer of 1820 he sojourned in Italy before moving to Dresden, where he was to remain until his death, making frequent visits to Norway in between. In 1836 he became one of the founders of the National Gallery of Norway and the Art Society in Olso. Among his best known compositions are 'Eruption of Vesuvius' (1826) and 'Megalith Grave in Winter' (1824–25).
  • Artist Place of Death: Dresden, Germany
  • Artist Place of Birth: Dresden, Germany
  • Artist Dates: 1788-02-24/1857-10-14

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