A radiant moon above the sea is tantalisingly beautiful. But just as enthralling is the moonglade, the reflection of the moon’s light on an expanse of water. The beauty of shimmering water on a moonlit night has inspired numberous works of art, including Theo van Rysselberghe’s ‘Moonlight Night in Boulogne’ (pictured above).

Small wonder that the ancient Greeks called their goddess of the moon “Selene”. The name is said to be derived from the Greek word selas, meaning light, brightness or gleam. The beauty of the moon personified as Selene has been immortalised in the Homeric Hymns:

From her immortal head a radiance is shown from heaven and embraces earth; and great is the beauty that ariseth from her shining light. The air, unlit before, glows with the light of her golden crown, and her rays beam clear, whensoever bright Selene having bathed her lovely body in the waters of Ocean,..

(from Homeric Hymn 32 to Selene, translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White (1914)

A Light on the Sea, 1897
Winslow Homer (American, 1836 – 1910)
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Ariko no Naishi Weeping in the Moonlight, 1886
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japanese, 1839 –1892); engraved by Horiko Yamamoto to.
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Moonlight on the Medway at Chatham, 1920
after Frank Short (British, 1857–1945)
Joseph Mallord William Turner (British, 1775–1851)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

A Moonlight Night in Venice, 19th–20th century
Robert David Gauley (American, 1875–1943)
Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Courtesy of Harvard Art Museums

Moonlit Night in Venice, date unknown
Alexey Bogolyubov (Russian, 1824–1896)
Courtesy of The Athenaeum

Moonlight, 1888
Julius Paulsen (Danish, 1860–1940)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (sourced from Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhagen)

Mondaufgang am Meer (Moonrise Over the Sea), 1822
Caspar David Friedrich (German, 1774–1840)
Courtesy of the Google Art Project

~ Barista Uno

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