nnocturne - A picture of a night scene.

The early glory of nocturnes flourished in the Baroque style known as temebrism (tenebroso in Italian).

Visual art would seem to be most concerned with realms of light. The nocturne proclaims the values of looking at greatly diminished light. It examines darkness, and conditions near its edge.






see thumbnail to leftGerrit van Honthorst (Dutch, 1590-1656), The Denial of Saint Peter, c. 1620, oil on canvas, Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  See Dutch art.





see thumbnail to rightGeorges De La Tour (French, 1593-1652), Magdalen with the Smoking Flame, c. 1640, oil on canvas, 46 x 36 1/8 inches (116.8 x 91.8 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art. See Baroque and French art.





see thumbnail to leftValentin de Boulogne (French, 1594-1632), A Musical Party, c. 1626, oil on canvas, 44 x 57 3/4 inches (111.76 x 146.69 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.





see thumbnail to rightRembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), The Raising of Lazarus, c. 1630, oil on panel, 37 7/8 x 32 inches (96.2 x 81.3 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art. See Baroque.




see thumbnail to leftRembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Self-Portrait, 1658, oil on canvas, 52 5/8 x 40 7/8 inches (133.7 x 103.8 cm), Frick Collection, NY. See self-portrait.




see thumbnail to rightPierre-Jacques Volaire (French, 1727-before 1802), The Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, 1777, oil on canvas, 53 1/8 x 89 inches (135.0 x 226.1 cm), North Carolina Art Museum, Raleigh.  See French art.




see thumbnail to leftUtagawa Toyoharu (Japanese, 1733-1814), Nakano-chō Street in the Shin Yoshiwara Entertainment Quarter, 18th-19th century, color woodblock print, image: 9 7/8 x 14 3/4 inches (25.0 x 37.4 cm); sheet: 9 7/8 x 14 3/4 inches (25 x 37.4 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art. See Japanese art.



see thumbnail to rightJoseph Wright of Derby (English, 1734-1797), The Iron Forge Viewed from without, oil on canvas, 105 x 140 cm, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. See English art.



see thumbnail to leftJoseph Wright of Derby, A Cottage on Fire, c. 1787, oil on canvas, 22 7/8 x 30 inches, Minneapolis Institute of Arts.






see thumbnail to rightFrancisco Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828), A Bad Night, 1799, etching and burnished aquatint; plate: 8 1/2 x 5 15/16 innhes (21.59 x 15.08 cm)





see thumbnail to leftJohn Hill (American engraver, 1770-1850), View by Moonlight, Near Fayetteville, after a painting by Joshua Shaw (American, 1776-1860), published in Picturesque Views of American Scenery by M. Carey & Son, 1820, hand-colored engraving, New York Public Library. Several figures stand around a campfire in a forest. It is unclear whether this is near Fayetteville, Arkansas or Fayetteville, North Carolina. See picturesque.




see thumbnail to rightJoseph Mallord William Turner (English, 1775-1851), Moonlight, a Study at Millbank, 1797, oil on canvas, Tate Museum, London. See English art and Romanticism.




see thumbnail to leftJoseph Mallord William Turner, Saint Denis, c. 1833, oil on canvas, Tate Museum, London. No painter is more reknowned than Turner for his painting of atmosphere and light. In the foreground, a number of people busy themselves on the shore of the Seine, the church of St. Denis in the background to the left. All of this industrious activity might suggest that the central source of light is the sun behind a screen of clouds. However, it is more plausible that we see the moon illuminating this tableau. A number of starry dots and passages of clear sky are painted a very dark violet, rendering it somewhat similar to the sky behind this text.



Fitz Hugh Lane (American, 1804-1865), Ship Starlight, c. 1860, oil on canvas, 30 x 50 inches (76.2 x 127.0 cm), Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH. See Luminism.




see thumbnail to rightSamuel Palmer (English, 1805-1881), A Cornfield by Moonlight with the Evening Star, c. 1830, watercolor with body color and pen and ink, British Museum, London. See Romanticism.




see thumbnail to leftCharles Emile Jacque (French, 1813-1894), Lisière de forêt, effet de soir, no date, etching, New York Public Library.



Jean-François Millet (French, 1814-1875), Fisherman, black crayon, 0.328 x 0.492 m, Louvre. Millet is most associated with the Barbizon school of painters, though he is an important precursor to Realism.




see thumbnail to leftWilliam Trost Richards (American, 1833-1905), Moonlight on Mount Lafayette, New Hampshire, 1873, watercolor, gouache, and graphite on gray-green wove paper, 8 1/2 x 14 3/16 inches (21.6 x 36 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See luminosity.




see thumbnail to rightJames Abbott McNeil Whistler (American, 1834-1903), Nocturne: Grey and Gold -- Westminster Bridge, 1871-2, Burrell Collection, Glasgow.





see thumbnail to leftJames Abbott McNeil Whistler, Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, c. 1874, oil on canvas, 23 3/4 x 18 3/8 inches, Detroit Institute of Arts. Whistler's nocturnes were tangible demonstrations of his creed of aestheticism, which stressed the artist's duty to orchestrate selected elements from nature into a composition that, like music, existed for its own sake, without regard to moral or didactic issues. This controversial viewpoint led to a lawsuit with John Ruskin (1810-1900, English writer, critic, and artist). Whistler accused Ruskin of slander, when the critic published his opinion of Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket. Ruskin had written,"I have seen, and heard, much of cockney impudence before now; but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face." Whistler won the libel suit and the fine of one see thumbnail to rightfarthing (the English coin of least worth), and yet the affair bankrupted him. Whistler was assured, nevertheless, of a distinguished place as a precursor to abstract art. Also see art for art's sake, fin de siècle, numismatics, and pyrotechnics.



see thumbnail to leftJames Abbott McNeil Whistler, Nocturne: The Thames at Battersea, 1878, lithograph, 6 3/4 x 10 1/8 inches (17.1 x 25.7 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. In his Ten O'Clock Lecture, Whistler analyzed his fascination for the Thames at night, explaining how the evening mist invested the riverside with poetry, transforming chimneys into campanili and warehouses into vast palaces of the night.





see thumbnail to rightJames Abbott McNeill Whistler, Nocturne, 1879-80, etching and drypoint, 7 13/16 x 11 9/16 inches (19.9 x 29.5 cm), Cincinnati Art Museum, OH.




see thumbnail to leftAtkinson Grimshaw (English, 1836-1893), Liverpool Quay by Moonlight, 1887, oil on canvas, 61.0 x 91.4 cm, Tate Gallery, London.



see thumbnail to rightAttributed to Ralph Albert Blakelock (American, 1847-1919), Untitled (Moonlight Landscape), n.d., oil on panel, 18 x 24 inches, Minneapolis Institute of Arts.





see thumbnail to leftVincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890), The Starry Night, June 1889 (Saint Rémy), oil on canvas, 29 x 36 1/4 inches (72 x 92 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY, F 612. Van Gogh painted several nocturnes, and wrote, “I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” See expression and Post-Impressionism.




see thumbnail to rightLovell Birge Harrison (American, 1854-1929), The Hidden Moon, no date, oil on canvas, 25 1/4 x 30 1/8 inches, National Academy of Design, NY.



see thumbnail to leftHenri-Edmond Cross (French, 1856-1910), Landscape with Stars, watercolor over pencil on paper, 9 5/8 x 12 5/8 inches (20.5 x 32.5 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Neo-Impressionism.




see thumbnail to rightJoseph Pennell (American, 1857-1926), Blue Night, London, c. 1894-1909, watercolor on light blue paper, 10 x 13 13/16 inches; 25.4 x 35.08 cm, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.




see thumbnail to leftChilde Hassam (American, 1859-1935), Nocturne, Railway Crossing, Chicago, 1893, watercolor on paper, 16 x 11 3/4 inches (40.6 x 29.8 cm), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Hassam layered subtly varied blue washes to evoke pavement, skyscrapers, streetcars, and horse-drawn carriages and added highlights to capture glowing lights and their reflections on the wet street. See American Impressionism and Ten American Painters.





see thumbnail to rightGeorges-Pierre Seurat (French, 1859-1891), Circus Sideshow (La Parade), 1887-88, oil on canvas, 39 1/4 x 59 inches (99.7 x 149.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. (On the Met's page, you can enlarge any detail.) This painting depicts the effects of gas lights illuminating the free entertainment offered at the entrance of a traveling theater. This "sideshow" was intended to attract a crowd and encourage the sale of tickets. See neo-impressionism and pointillism.




Frederic Remington (American, 1861-1909), Coming to the Call, c. 1905, oil on canvas, William I. Koch collection, Palm Beach, FL. See illustration and wood engraving. Read Joseph Phelan's article about Remington's nocturnes at Artcyclopedia.




see thumbnail to rightFrederic Remington (American, 1861-1909), Shotgun Hospitality, 1908, oil on canvas, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, NH. See genre.





see thumbnail to leftArthur Bowen Davies (American, 1862-1928), Night's Overture, 1907, oil on canvas, 18 x 30 1/4 inches, Minneapolis Institute of Arts. See The Eight.



Georges Rouault (French, 1871-1958), Nocturne chrétien (Christian Night), 1952, oil on canvas, 97 x 65.2 cm, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. See expression and Expressionism.





see thumbnail to rightRinaldo Cuneo (American, 1877-1939), The Embarcadero at Night, c. 1927-1928, oil on plywood, 34 x 36 inches (86.4 x 91.4 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.




see thumbnail to leftAugusto Giacometti (Swiss, 1877-1947), Summer Night, 1917, oil on canvas, 26 1/2 x 25 5/8 inches (67.2 x 65 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.




see thumbnail to rightEdward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg, 1879-1973), Nocturne-Orangerie, 1910, printed 1913, photogravure, 6 5/16 x 8 1/4 inches (16.03 x 20.96 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art. See photography.



Pablo Picasso, Night Fishing at Antibes, Antibes, August 1939, oil on canvas, 6 feet 9 inches x 11 feet 4 inches (205.8 x 345.4 cm).




see thumbnail to leftStanislaw Ignacy (Witkacy) Witkiewicz (Polish, 1885-1939), Moonrise Australia, 1918, pastel and crayon on cardboard, 51.5 x 65.5 cm, Museum of Literature, Warsaw. See Polish art.





see thumbnail to rightKarl Struss (American, 1886-1981), Brooklyn Bridge, Nocturne, c. 1913, printed 1979, platinum print photograph, 3 5/8 x 4 1/2 inches (9.21 x 11.43 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.



Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986), Train at Night in the Desert, 1916, watercolor and pencil on paper, 11 7/8 x 8 7/8 inches (30.3 x 22.5 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.



Georgia O'Keeffe, Evening Star, III, 1917, watercolor on paper, 8 7/8 x 11 7/8 inches (22.7 x 30.4 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.




see thumbnail to leftCharles E. Burchfield (American, 1893-1967), Moon through Young Sunflowers, 1916, gouache, graphite, and watercolor on paper, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA.




Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983), The Beautiful Bird Revealing the Unknown to a Pair of Lovers from the "Constellation series," July 23, 1941, gouache, oil wash, and charcoal on paper, 18 x 15 inches (45.7 x 38.1 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.




see thumbnail to rightItō Shinsui (Japanese, 1898-1972), Night Rain at Tago Beach, 1939, color woodblock print, image: 9 5/16 x 14 13/16 inches (24.7 x 37.6 cm); paper: 10 11/16 x 15 1/2 inches (27.2 x 39.3 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.



Willem de Kooning (American, born in The Netherlands, 1904-1997), Night, 1948, oil on canvas, 23 x 28 inches, Minneapolis Institute of Arts. See Abstract Expressionism.




see thumbnail to leftBrad Cole (American, 1957-)
New Moon, Evening Star, Ocean, 1989, gelatin-silver print photograph, 17 x 23 5/8 inches (43.18 x 60.01 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.




NASA (USA's space agency), composite photograph of the entire earth at night, showing lights visible from space, . This is a very large image at 2400 x 1200 pixels.



Also see Caravaggisti, dark, day for night, light, night blindness or nyctalopia, pearlescent, pyrotechnics, and tenebroso or tenebrism.

















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