Light and the Spiritual: The Role of Bright Light


Today when we think of lighting effects in painting, we normally think of the subtle effects of moonlight. In the nineteeth century, however, painters and the public were primarily interested in studying and enjoying the effects of bright light on nature.

In this painting, by the English painter J. M. W. Turner, the sun is shining directly at the viewer in late afternoon, but long before sunset. The counterpart in twentieth-century photography would be a strob fired directly at the camera.

J. M. W. Turner, Mortlake Terrace, c. 1826, National Gallery of Art