Astronomy Sleuths Uncover Monet Painting Origins (Images)

Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise)

Musée Marmottan Monet

Celestial sleuthing and art historical detective work could reveal when the Impressionist master Claude Monet painted his landmark work, "Impression, Sunrise" or "Impression, Soleil Levant" showing the hazy harbor of Le Havre, France. See the astronomy detective story in images in this gallery, courtesy of Texas State University.

The title of Monet's work inspired the name of the Impressionist art movement of the 19th century. Donald Olson, a Texas State astronomer and physics professor, suspects the artist must have been trying to capture a moment on Nov. 13, 1872, 7:35 a.m. local time. Read the Full Story.

Le Havre in the 1870s

Donald Olson

This diagram shows the layout of Le Havre in the 1870s. Monet was thought to have painted "Impression, Sunrise" from his room in the Hôtel de l'Amirauté, shown as a black dot here. The arrow points in the direction of the low sun shown in the painting. Read the Full Story.

1878 Woodcut Showing Construction Project iin Le Havre Harbor

Donald Olson

The silhouettes of cranes and derricks from a huge construction project in the harbor can be seen on the right side of Monet's painting. This woodcut, which appeared in 1878 in the French weekly L'Illustration shows the continuing undertaking. Read the Full Story.

Façade of the Hôtel de l'Amirauté.

Donald Olson

Nineteenth-century photographs show the façade of the Hôtel de l'Amirauté. Read the Full Story.

Suspected Location of Monet's Hotel Room

Donald Olson

Based on the vantage point depicted in another Monet painting, "The Grand Dock at Le Havre" (1874), researchers think Monet could have only been working from the window marked by a yellow X in the photo at the bottom here. Read the Full Story.

Comparison of Monet Painting to Postcard

Top: Donald Olson; Bottom: London, National Gallery

Researchers have reason to believe Monet would have painted the harbor just as he saw it. "For several other Monet paintings from Le Havre, we can be certain that the artist depicted the topography of the port accurately," Donald Olson said in a statement. Shown here is another Monet painting of the harbor, in contrast to a postcard from around 1900. Read the Full Story.

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Megan Gannon Contributing Writer

Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity on a Zero Gravity Corp. to follow students sparking weightless fires for science. Follow her on Twitter for her latest project.