This evocative little work is one of a set of 14 studies of cloud formations. Each piece is, in itself, a pleasant landscape; possibly unremarkable. But the superficial attractiveness conceals a darker message. In 1916 the Royal Flying Corps, which had grown out of the Royal Engineers at the beginning of the First World War, rapidly developed into an effective combative force rather than an aerial reconnaissance unit, which had been its first task. The new aeroplanes, which were being built at a tremendous rate, required newly-trained pilots, who had no experience of the aerial environment. Aeroplanes, being very light and relatively insubstantial, were at the mercy of meterological factors: the cloud formation paintings were commissioned in order to allow young pilots to study them and memorise those which represented adverse weather conditions which might prove fatal.
Where to see this painting?
Ministry of Defence
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