Etienne Leopold Trouvelot - 19th Century Drawings Compared To
Present-Day Photographs
0 comment Monday, March 24, 2014 |
I have recently discovered the astronomical drawings of Étienne Léopold Trouvelot.Trouvelot made a living as a portrait artist, but became increasingly interested in astronomy when sketching and observing the aurora borealis.

The Aurora Borealis.
The quality of these drawings caught the attention of the astronomers at Harvard University, who then invited Trouvelot to use their telescopes. In total, Trouvelot completed 7,000 drawings in fine detail.
These astronomical drawings were mostly completed between the years of 1870 and 1885, so I thought it would be interesting to compare what Trouvelot saw to the photographs we have now.

A drawing of the Orion Nebula.

The Orion Nebula as photographed by NASA.

The Milky Way as seen from earth.

The Milky Way photographed by Tom Lowe: Astronomy Photographer Of The Year 2010

Trouvelot's drawing of Jupiter.

Jupiter as photographed by NASA

Trouvelot's drawing of Saturn

Saturn, photographed by NASA.

A total eclipse of the Sun.

A total eclipse of the Sun, photographed by Michael Kobusch.

Sun spots as discovered by Trouvelot.

Active Region 1302 photographed by Alan Friedman.
It is interesting to compare these, as you can see where Trouvelot has added artistic flourishes. The Trouvelot drawings fascinate me for this reason, the drawings are not true copies and light is portrayed as being quite linear.However, the artist impressed astronomers enough to have a crater on the moon named after him!
If you consider photographs of such phenomena taken in the same time period, you begin to see why. This is the first photograph of the Orion Nebula taken in 1880 by Professor Henry Draper:

Three years later, using a long exposure, Henry Draper improved his photograph of the Orion Nebula:

The Trouvelot drawings were very up to the minute at this time, his work celebrates an era of astronomical discovery.

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