Saturday, January 25, 2014

Monet moment

During a 3-week winter trip to the Normandy coast in the 19th c., French impressionist Claude Monet painted Étretat: Sunset (IMAGE ABOVE), a landscape showing a low-setting sun, a seaside cliff, and a needle-shaped rock formation. Through fieldwork and the techniques of forensic astronomy, researchers from Texas State University have revealed specific details about the painting. Not only did they determine exactly where Monet stood at his easel, they figured out exactly when. Astrophysicist Donald Olson and his team used planetary software to calculate, based on Monet's vantage point and the position of the crescent moon and sun in the painting, the narrow 4-day window during which the master work must have been completed. After studying Monet's correspondence and historical weather and tidal data, they narrowed the precise date to February 5th, 1883, at 4:53 PM local time. Olson has analyzed paintings by Edvard Munch, Vincent Van Gogh, and others over the years and defends himself from mixed reaction by art historians: "You can't ruin a painting's mystique through technical analysis."

1 comment:

  1. I have always believed Monet's understanding and depiction of light was preternatural!


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