Landscape painting and science

For about three decades Franz Ossing, former Head of the GFZ PR-department and trained meteorologist, has been engaged in the analysis of the reality content of images, especially the Dutch landscape paintings of the 17th Century and their reflection of weather and climate. It became apparent that landscape paintings do not offer reliable proxy data for climate research. Natural archives are far more precise. Conversely, however, it could be shown that the natural sciences in collaboration with art history and social science disciplines allow an improved access to the interpretation of the paintings.

Collections of texts

The Little Ice Age
Climate, Weather and Geology in Dutch Landscape Painting of the 17th Century, PDF-catalogue of the exhibition "The Little Ice Age", Painting Gallery, Staatl. Museen zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, 2001, selected chapters in English

Mapping Spaces: Wolken (German only)
German version, slighlty revised, of a contribution to the exhibition catalogueMapping Spaces“ at the ZKM | Museum für Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe, 12.04. - 13.07.2014

The Urge for Realism. Meteorology in Dutch Landscape Painting in the 17th Century
from the exhibition catalogue "The Sky so Wide", Museum Schloss Moyland, 18.5.-24.08.2014

Paintings as a climate archive?
Do paintings provide us with climate proxy data?

Haarlem's Crown of Clouds
Meteorology in J.v. Ruisdael's 'Haarlempjes'

Contrived Reality
Weather and Geology in J.v. Ruisdael's 'View of Ootmarsum'
A contribution to the "Summer of Science" and ESOF, Munich 2006

An Ordinary Sky by an Extraordinary Painter
Jan van Goyen, "On the Dune", 1642

Hendrick Avercamp: Enjoying the Ice
Symposium "IJspret - De winters van Hendrick Avercamp"
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
, 14. 01. 2010

Joos de Momper’s Clouds, Sky and Atmospheric Optics

Goethe and the Clouds

Comment on John Walsh: "Skies and Reality in Dutch Landscape "(1991)

Selected Paintings: