"That Dreamy Haze In Monet’s Impressionist Paintings? Air Pollution."

"Claude Monet was “terrified.” He looked outside and saw a scene across the London landscape that worried him: no fog, clear skies.

“Not even a wisp of mist,” he wrote in a letter on March 4, 1900, to his wife, Alice, while the French painter visited London. “I was prostrate, and could just see all my paintings done for.”

Then, he writes in translated letters shared by the Tate art museum, gradually fires were lit, and smoke and a haze of industrial pollution returned to the skies. His work continued.

A new study, published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, analyzed changes in style and color in nearly 100 paintings by Monet and Joseph Mallord William (J.M.W.) Turner, who are known for their impressionistic art and lived during Western Europe’s Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. The study found that over time, as industrial air pollution increased throughout Turner’s and Monet’s careers, skies in their paintings became hazier, too."

Kasha Patel reports for the Washington Post January 31, 2023.

Source: Washington Post, 02/02/2023