The Moon has been looming overtop of humans since before recorded history. The silent counterpart to the mighty sun, the moon is ever present in our eyes, our minds, and in our imagination. The way the moon has been weaved into different mythologies, religions, traditions, and cultures from all around the world is astounding but also not surprising, as the moon is something we all experience. This introspective look at artworks featuring the Moon strives to make comparisons between works that span centuries and many different style and mediums, all of whom share the same goal of depicting something we see every night, the Moon. 

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Les Quartre Parties du Jour: La Nuit ou le Claire de Lune

Accession Number

Les Quartre Parties du Jour: La Nuit ou le Claire de Lune

Artist Unknown

Object Creation Date
19th century

Medium & Support
oil on canvas

29 in x 19 1/8 in (73.66 cm x 48.58 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Penny and John Tropman

Subject matter
This marine painting features a nocturnal scene with a shipyard in the distance to the viewer’s right and ships at sea, either approaching or leaving the port.  In the foreground, people take part in various activities such as fishing, gathering water from a fountain, and cooking over a fire, highlighting the nightlife of a port town.  Some of the figures’ poses cite classical art or well-known paintings such as the woman who rests on the ledge of the fountain and extends her hand in a pose derived from Rembrandt’s painting of Danaë (1636, oil on canvas, Hermitage State Art Museum).  Billowing clouds reveal a bright moon that reflects onto the surface of the water and gives way to mountains in the far distance.  The kindling fire creates a warm light that contrasts to the cool cast of the moonlit sky.  The 19th century dress and classicizing architectural features such as the water fountain and gazebo lookout (middleground) are attributes of neo-classicism.

Physical Description
A nocturnal scene with ships, a dockyard, and a mountain range in the background.  People are gathered in the foreground partaking in various activities, illuminated in part by the moon and its reflection on the sea, as well as by a fire.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

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landscapes (representations)
marines (visual works)

3 Related Resources

Landscape and Nature, Comparative and Historical
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
The Sea
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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