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The Cover
September 2, 2009

Le Père Jacques (The Wood Gatherer)

JAMA. 2009;302(9):927. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1087

In 1861 the physicist James Clerk Maxwell projected the first crude image of a color photograph onto a screen. For centuries, painters had refined methods to make pictures appear lifelike and three-dimensional, and then Maxwell, a man without formal training in art, was able to make a color image that looked real. The purpose of art was suddenly less clear. Before long, painters were trying to achieve something beyond a static image, such as the impression of movement or changing patterns of light and color. These revolutionaries, who became known as the Impressionists, were criticized for manipulating visual perception rather than taking the time to construct accurate representations of reality using the techniques taught in academies of art instruction.