Constable painted two landscapes with cloud studies at Hampstead on 31 July 1822: this one, and another of a stormy sunset that he probably painted a little later in the evening (Victoria and Albert Museum, London).
In this impressionistic oil sketch of the uncultivated landscape of West Heath, Constable portrayed the setting sun with an approaching storm. In an animated sky the sun lights the tops of the cumulus clouds and provides a contrast to the darker storm clouds. He sketched in the Heath with a minimum of strokes, allowing the reddish-brown ground to show through. There is good agreement between Constable’s inscription and the weather records for the London area on that day, which indicate westerly showers (Thornes 1999, p. 256).
Graham Reynolds has suggested that the inscription ‘Schroth’ on verso suggests that the French art dealer, Schroth, ordered a picture to be painted from this sketch (Reynolds 1960, p. 148)