Source of Light in Art
Published in conjunction with the one
hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Monet’s
1872 painting, Impression, Sunrise, this
unique and illuminating catalog reaches
throughout history to explore how artists have
incorporated the sun as a reference point and
as inspiration in their art.
For as long as humans have been making art, they have turned to the sun as the source of light, warmth and life itself. It appears as a symbol of limitless power, as the personification of gods and of Christ, and as a harbinger of change. Artists have also used the sun as a means of exploring light and color and as an entrée into discussions about climate. The first of its kind, this book investigates visual representations of the sun from antiquity to the present day. It is divided into seven roughly chronological sections that look at both epoch-spanning and period specific examples, including symbolic, allegorical representations, the iconography of mythological subjects, and mimetic qualities such as typology, phenomenology, and emotional effect. It includes more than two hundred stunning reproductions of well- and lesser-known works of art. Incisive and enlightening texts explore how solar symbolism figured in pre-Christian objects; through 17th-century depictions of the “Sun King” Louis XIV; how artists such as Rubens and Monet employed the sun in their narrative paintings; how the Impressionists first investigated the sun’s effects on a landscape; how Neo-Impressionists such as Seurat experimented with color, based on the Newtonian analysis of the solar spectrum; and how 20th-century artists incorporated a broad array of abstract, surrealistic, and transformative modes of solar representation into a variety of media.