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 user 2006-08-09 at 11:50:00 am Views: 47
  • #16132

    Paintings reveal pollution clues
    Monet’s paintings could shed light on pollution in London at the turn of the 20th Century, say scientists.
    of Birmingham researchers have pinpointed the dates and times of
    depicted scenes by analysing the position of the Sun in the sky.The
    research also revealed the French painter’s vantage point: a second
    floor terrace at St Thomas’s Hospital.The paintings give an accurate
    record of Victorian London’s urban atmosphere, they write in a Royal
    Society journal.Dr John Thornes, from the School of Geography, Earth
    and Environmental Sciences, said they had demonstrated that Monet’s
    paintings contain accurate quantitative information.”We are confident
    that these paintings show an accurate visual record of the urban
    atmosphere of Victorian London,” he said.

    Great fogs
    is known for his series of impressionist paintings showing the London
    skyline obscured by smog.London’s “great fogs” reached a peak in the
    late 1880s, then gradually declined, but very little is known about the
    nature and causes of air pollution at the time.
    The great French
    painter made three trips to London in the autumn of 1899 and the early
    months of 1900 and 1901 to paint his London series.They were finished
    at his studio in Giverny, France, after his final trip, but it is not
    known whether the canvasses brought back from London were almost or
    partially complete and whether they were based on real-life
    observations.The scientists studied the position of the Sun in Monet’s
    series of paintings of the Houses of Parliament begun on his second
    visit in 1900.The towers and spires of the Parliament skyline provided
    markers for working out the position of the Sun in the paintings,
    giving accurate dates and times.These were then compared to historical
    records of the dates Monet was in London.

    Atmospheric clues
    letters state that he observed the Sun on at least four separate
    occasions and these coincide with the main dates we have attributed to
    the paintings,” said Dr Jacob Baker.”We know that it would have been
    quite difficult to see the Sun due to cloud and pollution so Monet had
    to be very patient for the sun to appear.”Using the information we have
    gleaned in this study, we can now go on to assess the information that
    Monet’s paintings may provide on the atmospheric state and pollution of
    Victorian London.”They hope further detective work on Monet’s famous
    paintings might yield clues to the scattering of light in the
    atmosphere and the particles that made up the fogs.The research by the
    University of Birmingham pair is published in the Proceedings of the
    Royal Society A.The Thames Below Westminster 1871 can be seen in the
    National Gallery’s “Manet to Picasso” free exhibition, on display 22
    Sept 2006 – 20 May 2007.