Moon and Venus at Sunset
Howard Russell Butler began his career as a lawyer before becoming a full-time artist, and he painted moonlit landscapes and solar eclipses throughout his life. Rather than enlarge the moon for dramatic effect, Butler accurately painted the waxing crescent high and small in the sky. Venus, also depicted, shines brightly enough to be seen with the naked eye, because, like the moon, it reflects the light of the sun. Based on the positions of Venus and the moon, Butler most likely painted this landscape around June 3, 1923, in the mountains outside Santa Barbara, California, where he was living.