Those great three studies of clouds show the sky at different hours and in three various atmospheric conditions, from the same place. Painted by the Danish Peter Olsen-Ventegodt around 1894, they share the same horizontal composition, with a very low line of horizon, giving much importance to the sky, rather than the seascape. A dark strip of land on the left of the compositions, marks the horizon, separating the sky from the waters, giving the impression that there is a farer land, with a mountain range above which the sun is rising or setting, though beautiful examples of cumulus, cumulonimbus, or altostratus clouds.
Peter Olsen-Ventegodt was formed at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts between 1880 and 1883. He was part of a brilliant generation of painters in rupture with the artistic tradition of the so-called Danish “Golden Age” and marked by the idea of renewal through naturalist and symbolist affinities. If he doesn’t seem to have taken part in the artistic colony of Skagen, where most of his contemporaries went painting in the summer, he exhibited at their side at the Exposition Universelle, first in Paris in 1889, and then in 1894 in Antwerp, notably with the Christmas Eve on a Farm (1888), now at Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen. He spent a great part of his career travelling. First in France, in 1888, where he might have been influenced by different aspects of the French production at the time, such as impressionism and symbolism. But it was in Italy that Olsen-Ventegodt travelled the most, between 1897 and 1902, painting landscapes and antic monuments, such as A View of the Colosseum, Rome (1898, Statens Museum for Kunsten).
The date 1894 and the intensity of the light of those three paintings suggest a that they might have been created in his home land, between his return from France and his departure for Italy. Given the attention to the sky, the variations of its light and colors at different hours in the day, Olsen-Ventegodt have been certainly nourished by the impressionist’s views on the subject but the light here have definitively the accents of the North, something cold and metallic, while burning at the same time.
Although present in some Danish museums, Olsen-Ventegodt’s works are very rare, and even more so oil sketches as the present one. This group is exceptional to have survived, as later, under the Italian sun, the artist interest moved to representation of ruins and buildings.