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April 28, 1975

Artistic License

Author Affiliations

Carlsbad, NM

JAMA. 1975;232(4):347. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03250040007002

To the Editor.—  The cover on the Jan 6 issue of The Journal, Piloty's dramatic portrait, "Columbus' First Glimpse of the New World," was an excellent choice. It tells a great story, depicts an inspired and magnificent character, and is artistically an excellent work. This is the sort of art that many of us amateur artists of the old school can only envy and admire.The diagnosticians among us, however, might point out several points of artistic license that the painter evidently took. Noting the position of the moon (as indicated by the shadows) and the constellation Orion, one should deduct that at this moment Columbus was evidently sailing east, not west, and that he was apparently in a northern latitude, probably 40° north, nowhere near San Salvador. I'm sorry I can't tell at what longitude. The time would have been about 11 PM, I think, since at that time