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    Light, color and vision

  

  







"Meule, Effet de Neige, le Matin (Morning Snow Effect)"



A few of Monet’s haystacks paintings from ca. 1890-91.

Until the nineteenth century, color was thought to be an intrinsic property, like density or melting point. Oranges were intrinsically orange and lemons yellow.

Claude Monet (1840-1926) changed this misconception in a remarkable series of paintings that he painted around 1890. He picked a particular scene out of doors, such as the haystacks shown here, and he painted a series of paintings of the haystacks, under different light conditions at different times of the day.
He would rise before dawn, paint the first canvas for half an hour, by which time the light would have changed. Then he would switch to the second canvas, and so on. The next day he would repeat the process and so on until the paintings were finished.

In each painting the color of the haystack is different because the light shining on the haystack is different. The ""color" of the haystack is determined by the "colors" the haystack absorbs. The "color" we "see" is simply the "color" that is not absorbed and reflected into our eyes.

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