Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

Physicist puts time on timeless Monet painting

The Impressionist art movement began Nov. 13, 1872, right around 7:35 a.m. local time.

That's the moment Claude Monet put brush to canvas to depict a hazy sunrise seen from his hotel room in Le Havre, according to Donald Olson, a physicist at Texas State University, San Marcos.

The name Monet gave to that now famous work, Impression, Soleil Levant, (Impression, Sunrise) later was affixed to a school of art marked by its imprecise, subjective depiction of quotidian scenes, executed with loose brush strokes in vivid hues.

Art historians have debated where and when Monet's work was painted, with many disbelieving the abbreviated date "72" that the artist brushed beside his name. Others even insisted the plummy skies streaked with orange depicted a sunset, rather than sunrise, over the port city on the Normandy coast.

Olson, who dubs himself a "celestial sleuth," pored over hundreds of photographs and scores of historical maps of Le Havre before determining the precise room that matched the artist's southeast-facing perspective.

EBay's French site proved a boon — scores of historical photos have been posted there, Olson said. Those helped him find the structures depicted in Monet's Le Grand Quai, painted from a balcony of the Hotel de L'Amiraute. A bit of geometry and trigonometry led him to the precise position Monet likely occupied when painting.

Olson next calculated the sun's height from the horizon and its angle of rise, which determined the time of year and time of day depicted in the painting. He settled on late fall or early winter, at 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. local time.

Fellow Texas State physicist Ed Piner offered the next breakthrough, Olson said: The tall, multiple-masted ships depicted by Monet likely could not have been in the distant outer harbor unless tides were high.

"That suggests you're looking at a high tide, near a rising sun in a certain azimuth," Olson said. But that only narrowed the possibilities to 19 dates spanning from November 1872 to January 1873.

Much to Olson's surprise, a trove of 19th century daily weather observations in Le Havre harbor went online recently. He matched the sky and weather conditions to six dates in that period, then narrowed them to two days when the observer noted easterly morning winds-smoke in Monet's painting drifts slightly from east to west.

On Nov. 15, 1872, at 7:35 a.m., the weather observer noted light winds from the southeast with mist, fog and calm seas.

"All of the times I was considering were between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m.," Olson said. "So, on exactly the time of day I want to know about, we have a guy looking at the water and looking at the sky. The guy was out there every day at 8 in the morning."

A weather report on Jan. 25, 1873, also matched conditions, but curators opted for the November date, since Monet dated his painting "72."

This was far from Olson's first bout of applying science to art. He and his research team have linked the luridly orange sky of Edvard Munch's The Scream with drifting emissions from the Krakatoa volcanic eruption, and dated a Monet depiction of a sunset near the cliffs on the Normandy coast as well as three Van Gogh works. He also calculated the place where Ansel Adams snapped his shutter to capture an Autumn moon from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park-and organized a re-enactment of the shot, under similar celestial conditions, in 2005.

Olson had puzzled over the sunrise over Le Havre for 15 or more years, putting it aside for other projects. After publication in February of his work on the other Monet painting, The Cliff, Etretat, Sunset, French curators urged Olson to re-examine the Le Havre sunrise-they were planning an exhibition that opens Sept. 18 at the Musee Marmottan Monet in Paris.

Comments
Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Two people drowned and another suffered life-threatening injuries in the waters of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.Investigators said all three cases appear to be accidents, but the incidents stand as a reminder that summer, with vacation ...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Pinellas protesters: Stop separating families at the border

Pinellas protesters: Stop separating families at the border

Protests were held on both ends of Pinellas County on Monday in opposition to the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents as they seek asylum at the U.S. border."Children are not pawns," "No kids in cages" and "I would...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

An Orlando private equity firm has purchased lease-to-own business Rent-A-Center in a deal valued at more than $1 billion.Vintage Capital Management put a bid in for the company on Friday: $15 per share, $1 per share above its previous offer. Rent-A-...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Report: 40 percent of Florida property will be ‘highly exposed’ to flooding

Report: 40 percent of Florida property will be ‘highly exposed’ to flooding

One of Florida’s biggest draws is also one if its biggest liabilities — its coastline. A new report projects that Florida is at the greatest risk of any state for tidal flooding caused by rising sea levels. And Tampa Bay faces some of the greatest ri...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

SEMINOLE — She was 22 when deputies said a man forced her at knifepoint into the woods off Seminole Boulevard and sexually battered her in February 1987.The case went cold, but now the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said it has arrested the man it ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

TAMPA — Iceland isn't what it used to be. Literally. The Nordic island country is shrinking, what with global warming. Iceland's glaciers are getting smaller. If you took all that ice and laid it end to end, well, you clearly have nothing bette...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

TAMPA — Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the driver who fatally struck a pedestrian on Sunday night and then drove off.The incident took place at 9:15 p.m. near the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Linebaugh Avenue.No details a...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Petersburg teen, seven months pregnant, dies in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, seven months pregnant, dies in Pasco crash

HUDSON — A 16-year-old St. Petersburg teen who was seven months pregnant was fatally injured in a crash Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The incident took place at 9:11 p.m. on Little Road south of Hudson Avenue. The teen, Emily ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Mazzaro’s gets ready to reopen

Mazzaro’s gets ready to reopen

day after an electrical fire broke out in its dry goods warehouse Friday night.Dominic Horwath, a grocery manager at Mazzaro’s on 22nd Ave. N, said staffers spent Monday and the weekend moving things into other warehouses.The damage from the fire at ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

WashingtonPentagon suspends August drills with South KoreaThe Pentagon on Monday formally suspended a major military exercise planned for August with South Korea, a much-anticipated move stemming from President Donald Trump’s nuclear summit with Nort...
Updated: 2 hours ago