Collection Spotlight: The Art of Skywatching

February 19–June 20, 2021

What do skywatchers, professional and amateur, notice when they look at the sky as depicted in works of art? Marc Taylor, Manager of Planetarium and Science Programs at the Hudson River Museum, draws our attention to works of art from the permanent collection, ranging from the 1860s to the 2010s, and sheds light on both the phenomena depicted and the science behind them.

Artists on view include Derrick Adams, Albert Bierstadt, Howard Russell Butler, Frank Russell Green, Richard Haas, James Hendricks, Amy (Frisbie Blair) Jones, Louis Aston Knight, and Elihu Vedder. The installation also features a special loan from artist Robert Zakanitch, Doily Moon, 2015, which combines a close observation of the night sky with elements of his signature ornamental style.

Whether it be the sky’s changing colors or the illuminating properties of moonlight, contemplate the physical mechanisms behind these natural occurrences, and perhaps you will recognize the visual clues the next time they appear before you in art—or in real life!

Howard Russell Butler (American, 1856–1934). The Moon and Venus at Sunset, ca. 1923. Oil on artist’s board. Museum Purchase, 2018 (2018.14).