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Through the Eyes of Degas and Monet

Artistic%20Vision.jpgAn ophthalmologist professor at Stanford University has proposed that those broad brushstrokes and impressionistic, fleeting scenes painted by Edgar Degas and Claude Monet in their later years were caused more by vision troubles than artistic vision. Basing his research on historical documents, Michael Marmor simulated with Photoshop how the artists may have perceived their own paintings.

According to Marmor, Monet was diagnosed with cataracts “that worsened steadily over the decade from 1912 to 1922” before he had surgery in 1923. Cataracts blur vision and can add a yellowish hue to sight, two handicaps that Monet attempted to compensate for in his art.

Marmor diagnosed Degas as having “progressive retinal disease that caused central (macular) damage” that resulted in less detailed, and more splotchy paintings, like After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself to the right with Marmor’s rendering of how Degas might have seen it below.

The full article and more photos can be found in the Archives of Ophthalmology but a subscription is required. The San Francisco Chronicle has also posted some images along with an interview.

Vision vs. visionary -- see what Monet, Degas saw (SF Chronicle)
Eye diseases gave great painters different vision of their work, Stanford ophthalmologist says (press release)
Ophthalmology and art: simulation of Monet's cataracts and Degas' retinal disease (Pub Med)

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