The Pix for El Greco’s Clouds
1. First, an example of early medieval art, with no sky at all. This is a representation of Jesus Meeting the Woman at the Well, from the Ravenna mosaics:
2. In the Tres riches heures of the Duc de Berry, the sky is a clean blue. The action of the heavens is depicted above the sky, in the tympanum that shows the state of the zodiac. This is the painting for June.
3. Pieter Bruegel the Elder is among the first to give the sky — not the zodiac — an active role in the moods and fates of human life. Here are four pictures of different seasons where the clouds play leading roles.
4. In Rubens’s landscape of Baucis and Philemon, the painter shows an apocalypse in which a storm converts the entire landscape into a toppling, convective whirl.
5. El Greco makes the sky and its clouds the foundation of heaven. Here, the world of the earth is dark and still. The lively world is that of the clouds, into which the soul of the Conde de Orgaz is being drawn.
6. In his later paintings, El Greco makes even his human figures become like sinuous curves of rising air. Here, the whole landscape and its people are en-heavened by becoming convective like the weather.