Art State of Mind

Art in the Golden Hour

Marga Patterson 7 April 2022 min Read

The golden hour is a brief and awe inspiring moment filled with the most radiant light, intense colors, and deep shadows. For centuries artists have raced to capture the essence of the sun’s vitality during these times of the day. From the luminous glow of the early morning sun to the final burst of sunlight, the beauty is truly captivating. Here’s a look at a few of our favorite golden hour artists.

golden hour art: Anna Ancher, Sunshine in the Blind Woman's Room, 1885.

Anna Ancher, Sunshine in the Blind Woman’s Room, 1885. Pinterest.

Illuminated Interiors

The golden hour in art extends beyond landscapes to include portraits and interiors. Danish artist Anna Ancher (1859-1935) followed the trail of the sun around domestic spaces. Ancher was part of the Skagen Painters artist colony in northern Denmark from the late 1870s onward. Her work is linked to Impressionism, Realism, and Symbolism. She explored the way light occupies space and radiates the warmth of the sun. Although she primarily painted women, her subjects also included men, children, and landscapes. Ancher had a successful career as an artist and is considered one of Denmark’s most remarkable painters.

golden hour art Anna Ancher, Study of the seamstress' head, 1890,

Anna Ancher, Study of the Seamstress’ Head, 1890, Skagens Museum, Skagen, Denmark.

golden hour art Anna Ancher, Evening sun in the artist's studio at Markvej, after 1913

Anna Ancher, Evening Sun in the Artist’s Studio at Markvej, after 1913, Skagens Museum, Skagen, Denmark.

Basking in the Glow

Aside from the exquisite light, the golden hour also changes the mood of the atmosphere. Polish artist Leon Wycźołkowski (1852-1936) managed to achieve just that in his paintings. He was a graphic artist, painter, and sculptor. He was also one of the leading artists in the Young Poland Movement and experimented with a variety of printmaking techniques. Wycźołkowski was deeply inspired by the rustic countryside of the Ukraine and the rural lifestyle. Evidence of the golden hour sweep through his emotionally charged works rife with a glowing intensity.

golden hour art Leon Wycźołkowski, Plowing in Ukraine,

Leon Wycźołkowski, Plowing in Ukraine, 1892, Sukiennice Museum, Kraków, Poland.

golden hour art: Leon Wycźołkowski, Study for ‘’Croquet Games’’ Female Figure, 1892

Leon Wycźołkowski, Study for ‘’Croquet Games’’ Female Figure, 1892, National Museum of Krakow, Kraków, Poland.

Blazing Hues

British-American landscape painter Thomas Moran (1837-1926) is best known for his atmospheric landscapes and seascapes. He was greatly influenced by the enigmatic landscapes of the American West, especially those of Yellowstone National Park, Utah, and the Grand Canyon. Deeply inspired by the paintings of J.M.W. Turner, Moran’s admiration is evident in his wild seascapes. The intensity of light and colors in Moran’s paintings generate the dynamic energy of the golden hour.

Thomas Moran, The Golden Hour, 1875, golden hour art

Thomas Moran, The Golden Hour, 1875, Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX, USA.

golden hour art Thomas Moran, Sunset at Sea, 1906,

Thomas Moran, Sunset at Sea, 1906, Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY, USA.

golden hour art: Thomas Moran, Fiercely the Red Sun Descending Burned His Way Along the Heavens, 1875-76

Thomas Moran, Fiercely the Red Sun Descending Burned His Way Along the Heavens, 1875-76, North Carolina Museum of Art,  Raleigh, NC, USA.

Master of Light

French Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840-1926) was clearly inspired by the dramatic light of the golden hour. He created some of his greatest works during this time of day. Monet was the ultimate plein-air painter, working on site with large canvases to soak up the glow of the golden hour. The artist painted several series based around the sun at different times of the day. Depicting both country and cityscapes, he seemed on an endless quest to investigate the essence of light. Some of Monet’s most notable series are Les Meules (haystacks) and Poplars.

golden hour art Claude Monet, Houses of Parliament, Sunset, 1903, National Gallery of Art Washington, Washington, DC, USA.

Claude Monet, Houses of Parliament, Sunset, 1903, National Gallery of Art Washington, Washington, DC, USA.

Claude Monet, Grainstack (Sunset), 1891, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA, USA.

golden hour art Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral at sunset, 1892, Musee Marmotten Monet, Paris, France.

Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral at Sunset, 1892, Musee Marmotten Monet, Paris, France.

The fleeting and ephemeral enchantment of the golden hour swells with an almost mystical reverence. Artists will undoubtedly continue to be inspired by the luminous magic of sunlight and strive to echo the effects of light in landscape and portraiture, expressing the greatness and magnificence of nature.

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