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zappapostrophe t1_jdvwwn9 wrote

Turner’s cataracts are well-documented, is that not a significant reason why his later paintings are the way they are?


La_danse_banana_slug t1_jdxbohk wrote

Sadly, Monet also developed cataracts as he aged. However when he first encountered the works of Turner and changed his own work significantly to reflect his influence, Monet's eyesight was still fine. His eyesight only declined after his most famous works were completed. Interestingly, his paintings post-cataract tended to be harsher in contrast, with more red-brown, and with sparser brushstrokes.

I've no idea how Turner's cataracts affected his work.


OCorinna t1_je4fbw6 wrote

He has foreseen it all with the help of cataract.


marketrent OP t1_jduy9dd wrote

Excerpt from the linked summary^1 about a paper^2 in PNAS:

>The study conducted by a team of scientists from the United States and Europe shows that artists such as Turner and Monet documented changes in atmospheric pollution in London and Paris through their paintings, providing a unique window into historical trends in air quality.

>The article demonstrates that the progression toward hazier contours and whiter color palettes in Turner and Monet’s paintings and other artists is consistent with the optical changes expected from higher atmospheric aerosol concentrations.

>Monet and Turner’s stylistic changes from more figurative to impressionistic suggested that their works could capture elements of the atmospheric environmental transformation during the Industrial Revolution.

>The study used a mixed-effects model to analyze the paintings, which allowed the researchers to account for both temporal and environmental trends.

>The model showed a significant dependence on emissions of sulfur dioxide – SO2 emissions – indicating that atmospheric pollution contributed to depicting the contrast in Turner and Monet’s paintings.

>The researchers note that while there are limitations to using paintings as a proxy for historical air quality, the evidence provided is complementary to instrumental measurements.

^1 Unfolding Impressionism: how Turner and Monet documented pollution. Josefina Cordera for United Academics Magazine, 16 Mar. 2023,

^2 Albright, A. L., & Huybers, P. (2023). Paintings by Turner and Monet depict trends in 19th-century air pollution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 120(6).


dscarbon333 t1_jdw3gx3 wrote

That is an interesting discussion.

It is peculiar to me that they don't mention the volcanic activity associated component/variable, sort of artificially skews the message of piece of writing arguably, but none the less, as can be seen from the sources they cite.....

For ex., from first source they cite in references;



Turner’s documentation of the optical effects of aerosols is also on display in the context of explosive volcanic eruptions. Turner’s paintings show changes in sunset coloration that accord with the expected effects of volcanic eruptions injecting aerosols into the stratosphere (5, 6). Turner also produced a sketchbook of 65 watercolors of sunsets in the three years following the Tambora eruption that captures the waxing and waning of the atmospheric reddening associated with stratospheric volcanic aerosols (SI Appendix, Fig. S8C). The fact that the course of events that Turner documents is consistent with the expected timescale associated with stratospheric aerosol migration and deposition following a volcanic eruption, (i.e., 1 to 3 y, 34) is further evidence for Turner providing a faithful depiction of variations in atmospheric light phenomena.


I'm not blaming you OP it is an acute omission on the original author's part perhaps, which I can understand could be sort of misleading, given sort of obscurity vis. said topic.

But seriously good on you OP it is an interesting phenomenon, thank you for bringing it up perhaps :).


Off-With-Her-Head t1_jdyd0xa wrote

Krakatoa explosion in 1883 was said to have produced colorful sunsets for years all over the world.


justingod99 t1_jdzmtq7 wrote

Sad to say, omission was likely due to it’s irrelevance to the article’s agenda.


velvykat5731 t1_jdx8rax wrote

Are we talking about Joseph Mallord William Turner? Is it correct to describe him as an "impressionist"?


marketrent OP t1_jdxj9w2 wrote


>Are we talking about Joseph Mallord William Turner? Is it correct to describe him as an "impressionist"?

I used the phrase ‘impressionistic paintings’ in the title to refer to an aesthetic effect, mindful of J.M.W.


akaxaka t1_je2muhy wrote

Thank you for taking the time to be technically correct ;)


Stardustchaser t1_jdymtqc wrote

Here I just thought they wanted to just make it misty/foggy


whiskeygambler t1_jdz8hmf wrote

Tbh, Londoners during the Industrial Revolution probably thought it was just foggy too


NotTyroneSenpai t1_je3h6dt wrote

They probably didn’t have the knowledge or understanding of pollution to consciously portray it.

However since the whole schtick is to paint outside, while touching grass, and paint as you see. If what you see is pollution you paint pollution. Its also less of a ‘wanting to paint things as foggy’ and more of a ‘wow this fog sure is aesthetically pleasing lemme paint it.’

Whether or not that inspiring fog was caused by pollution is what is being looked at.


HoneyInBlackCoffee t1_jdzqsfm wrote

Can someone show a picture of the paintings that aren't uselessly small?


[deleted] t1_jdzinkf wrote



Naritai t1_jdzn0y2 wrote

Maybe there wasn’t as much air pollution in the Hudson River Valley? Article isn’t saying that they set out to document air pollution, but rather when those painters looked out the window, what they saw was a deeply hazy landscape, and that influenced their paintings.


[deleted] t1_je5dcyp wrote



Naritai t1_je5tij2 wrote

Yeah, I'm not that familiar with the Hudson Valley school, but one hypothesis would be that they saw the impressionist paintings from London and Paris (which were indeed polluted), and imitated the style.


justingod99 t1_jdzocop wrote

Breaking News: Impressionism wasn’t really Impressionism at all! It was early environmental warriors chronicling the damage to our environment!


quantdave t1_jdzouqr wrote

I'm with the doubters here, except possibly in relation to Monet's 1899-1901 London works. London had long been famed for its smoke, efforts to control pollution dating back to the capital's rapid growth (and that of its coal shipments) around 1600, but into Turner's time much of that use remained domestic rather than industrial: the big increase would come later, with British per capita use (domestic, industrial and transport) nearly doubling from 2.6 tonnes in 1850 to 5 by 1900, a period when London's population grew 2½-fold, and the paper itself indicates that 70% of the rise in the metropolis's sulphur dioxide emissions occurred after Turner's death.

The chart suggests that Paris was a pollution minnow compared even with Turner's London, so if Monet was looking for hazy scenes, London around 1900 would be the place to go: half a century earlier, not so much, at least so far as industry's contribution is concerned.


Gilgamesh026 t1_jdxi202 wrote

Turner is the best impressionist, imo. Paintings feel so alive


qwertycantread t1_jdyjqso wrote

He isn’t usually categorized as such.


Gilgamesh026 t1_jdyr09c wrote

I am aware. He's normally considered part of Romanticism, if i recall.

But, its hard to look at his later work and not see qualities that remind me of impressionism


justingod99 t1_jdznlr3 wrote

This article has me scratching my head. It’s clear they are pushing an agenda with the comment “With megacities such as Beijing and New Delhi experiencing levels of air pollution similar to those of 19th-century London,” but that’s fine, no issue, everyone has an agenda.

The last sentence, though….trying to redefine Impressionism (very crudely and inadequately btw), I do take issue with.

“Turner and Monet likely intended to represent environmental change.” 🤔


stressedpesitter t1_je0dyrq wrote

This article is nonsense because the presumption that these artists were interested in painting the world as they saw it, aka, treated their paintings as a recording of the world. We know from writings, letters and actual art historians studying them that this is not the case. None of these painters presume their interest in realism.

Would their art be affected by the observation of light (and therefore be dependent on the atmospheric conditions)? Yes. Were they trying to record or are their paintings useful as a record of environmental pollution? No.


mammona t1_je0h835 wrote

Look up Edvard Munch's The Scream & eruption of Krakatoa (1893).

That explains a lot :)


Kevs-442 t1_je2m7ca wrote

Hooray for the Industrial Revolution! You're reading this because of it!


ironmanalex123 t1_jee4bc7 wrote

especially during a time when the effects of industrialization were not yet fully understood...