Today I came across an online article about using astronomical techniques to fix the time at which a photograph was taken or at which a painting is set. The example it examined in detail is Jan Vanmeer’s painting of his home city of Delft for which it established a date and time of about 8am on September 3rd 1659.
Jan Vermeer View of Delft
The article can be viewed at New analysis prompts rethinking of date, time for Vermeer’s View of Delft
There is an account of the artist’s life and work, including a discussion as to his possible use of optical devices to assist him in his draughtsmanship, at Johannes Vermeer
I have known this picture from being a small boy as we had a reproduction of it at home. Looking at the Wikipedia article about the painting, which has a photograph of the city from the same viewpoint as it is today, I think Delft appears less attractive now than it did in 1659 - but then I would say that of most places. In the case of Delft Vermeer has left later generations an exquisite evocation of that city on an early September morning.