Weather Wise

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Indy Lifestyle Online
You can tell where an artist comes from by the clouds he paints.

The next time you look at a reproduction of Constable's The Haywain, don't look at the cart stuck in the mud but turn your eyes upwards to those marvellous clouds. Grey without quite being seriously threatening, they are very British clouds.

According to Robin Stirling's The Weather of Britain, a survey of more than 5,800 paintings by major artists from 1400 to 1967 was once performed to see what effect climate had on art. He provides a table to illustrate the results, which shows, among other things, that low cloud - the type that provides so many of our dismal or rainy days - features more in paintings of the British school than that of any other country. The Germans have more high cloud in their paintings that anyone else (thanks perhaps to the experiences of the Swiss and Austrian artists). Italian art is noticeable for its infrequency of low cloud.

The British also stand out for the density of their cloud. In paintings of the Flemish, French, German, Italian or Spanish schools, you see clear skies or scattered cloud in over 20 per cent of their skies. The British, however, have only 4 per cent scattered cloud, and the number of clear skies is too small to register.

It's 48 per cent broken cloud and 48 per cent overcast. A fair reflection, one might think, of real life.