Many of the world's greatest Impressionist artists suffered from eye diseases that affected their work. Let's look at some examples:
· Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) was nearsighted, but he refused to wear his glasses. His close-up pieces are very distinct with a large amount of fine detail, but his landscapes are consistently hazy and out-of-focus.
· Claude Monet (1840-1926) had cataracts in both eyes. His color perception became so poor he had to read the labels on the paint tubes to tell what color he was using. Monet could only paint during certain times of the day due to issues with glare. He admitted that his paintings became more and more dark as his cataracts progressed. After undergoing cataract surgery in the right eye in 1923, Monet destroyed some of his earlier work that he felt was ruined due to the effects of the cataracts.
· Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was diagnosed with chorioretinitis, a term which encompassed many eye conditions back in the 19th century, including macular degeneration. It caused him to lose his central vision. As his vision loss progressed, he used less detail in his art. His late works also show a predominance of the color red and a lack of blue tones. This can be attributed to a cone deficiency in the retina. Nothing could be done at the time to cure his vision loss. Toward the end of his career, Degas explored other forms of art including photography and sculpture.
Melissa Richard, OD