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Paper: Astronomical Dating of Monet's Paintings on the Normandy Coast
Volume: 501, Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena VIII
Page: 57
Authors: Olson, D. W.
Abstract: Claude Monet (1840–1926) is famous for landscapes accurately capturing the changing nature of seas and skies. Monet created almost two thousand paintings during his long career, and several hundred of these works depict the skies above the spectacular cliffs, arches, rocks, harbors, and beaches on the Normandy coast. Our Texas State University group made a research trip to Normandy in the summer of 2012 and found dozens of the locations where Monet set up his easel. Astronomical considerations of daylight, twilight, night skies, and tides can be used to enhance our understanding of the artist's creative process. Monet himself said, “I need the Sun or the cloudy weather to coincide again with the tide, which must be low or high in accordance with my motifs.” Astronomical methods can be used to help in dating these works, many of which have uncertain dates in the existing catalogues and literature about Monet in Normandy. Analysis using the direction of sunlight and the direction of shadows, combined with calculations of lunar phases and tide levels, meteorological records, and the artist's letters, enables us to determine the exact date and the precise time, accurate to the minute, when Monet observed the sky that inspired a painting.
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