A Relation Between Moon Size and Horizon Distance

The moon in four paintings was analyzed: H. Daumier’s “The Bluestocking”, Samuel Palmer’s “Coming from Evening Church”, Vincent van Gogh’s “The Sower” and Henri Rousseau’s “Carnival Evening”.  The moon diameters of the first three paintings were found to be 17, 25 and 100 times too big.  Only Rousseau’s work showed the moon in its correct size.   

Interestingly, it was found that the lower the moon on the horizon, the larger the amount of exaggeration.  It has been suggested that the degree of exaggeration was inspired by the famous moon illusion (discussed in Part IV).  However, it should be noted that the exaggerations were first and foremost motivated by aesthetic reasons, with the moon illusion perhaps playing a part. 


Fig. 54 – Samuel Palmer’s “Coming from Evening Church”. 

Fig. 55 – Henri Rousseau’s “Carnival Evening”. 

Fig. 56 – Vincent van Gogh’s “The Sower”.