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Image of the Week: Monet's lilies in UV light

Earlier this week I came across an interesting story about Claude Monet's unique eyesight. Carl Zimmer writes:

Late in his life, Claude Monet developed cataracts. As his lenses degraded, they blocked parts of the visible spectrum, and the colors he perceived grew muddy. Monet's cataracts left him struggling to paint; he complained to friends that he felt as if he saw everything in a fog. After years of failed treatments, he agreed at age 82 to have the lens of his left eye completely removed. Light could now stream through the opening unimpeded. Monet could now see familiar colors again. And he could also see colors he had never seen before. Monet began to see - and to paint - in ultraviolet.

Monet would have seen UV light as violet or blue. White lily petals do reflect UV light, which insects like bees can see. This painting, Monet's "Water Lily Pond," is dated around 1915-1926, making it a work the painter completed after he developed cataracts.

The story comes from an interactive book for the iPad, created by the Exploratorium, a science museum in San Francisco.

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