Howard Russell Butler, “Approach of the Moon’s Shadow,” 1918, oil on canvas, Princeton University

On August 21, 2017, many parts of the United States will experience one of the most extraordinary natural events — a total solar eclipse. Although this is the first of its kind in 21st-century America, there have been of course been many others throughout history and around the globe that have been captured by curious artistic minds.

The Princeton University Art Museum recently opened a great exhibition in coordination with the August 21 total solar eclipse that will sweep across the United States from Washington to Georgia. “Transient Effects: The Solar Eclipses and Celestial Landscapes of Howard Russell Butler” opened on July 22 and continues through October 8.

Howard Russell Butler, “Solar Eclipse, Lompoc 1923,” 1923, oil on canvas, Princeton University
Howard Russell Butler, “Northern Lights, Ogunquit, Maine,” 1919, oil on canvas, Princeton University

An artist with a degree in science, Butler captured the transient moments of natural phenomena in the late 19th century. An 1876 graduate of Princeton, “Butler was focused on capturing images of the solar system through the medium of painting,” the university reports. “While Butler initially sought a career as a scientist, which included working in Thomas Edison’s lab in Menlo Park as an illustrator, he eventually pursued a career as a painter. After studying with landscape painter Frederic E. Church, he drew upon his knowledge of science to explore art through a different lens. He later founded the American Fine Arts Society, which is now known as the Arts Student League of New York.”

To learn more, visit the Princeton University Art Museum.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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