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jambouk

Art and History of Astronomy

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I stumbled on this painting in a book and now want to find a print of it as I love it. It was painted by Donato Creti (24 February 1671 – 31 January 1749) who was an Italian painter of the Rococo period, active mostly in Bologna. Image taken from this website: http://art-stronomy.tumblr.com/post/68105730127/donato-creti-astronomical-observations-1711-oil

Astronomy features in the art of many famous, and not so famous artists, and there are lots of lovely examples out there. I wonder what art/history of astronomy combinations others have found and enjoyed?

James

 

 

 

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That's a really interesting painting. I have never really considered this topic before.

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Wow that is such a beautiful painting.  

One of my favourites from the art world is this one of The Duchess of Maine, having a lesson in astronomy, painted by Francois du Troy.  Dating from the early 1700's it an insight into the wide pastimes undertaken by certain ladies from aristocratic France.  

More information about it can be found here http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2009/important-old-master-paintings-including-european-works-of-art-n08516/lot.65.html

Where it sold for a vast amount of money.

I feel though that many astronomers have also been talented artists, with sketches that are both beautiful as well as informative.   I love some of the older books astronomers sketches can be found in. The second image is one such it is called Midnight in Saturn and comes from the book Sun, Moon and Stars.  by Agnes Giberne draw in 1883.  It depicts the view from the surface of Saturn.

La_Leçon_d’astronomie_de_la_duchesse_du_Maine_-_François_de_Troy.jpg

Giberne_Midnight_in_Saturn.gif

Edited by reefshark
spl
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donato_creti.jpg

This shows the complete sequence of the Donato Creti Astronomical Observations. I don't know for certain if they were originally framed together, but they were undoubtedly a set. What is interesting is that the objects are painted as they would be seen through a telescope.

The complete sequence can be seen here (click for enlargements):

http://deliaopran.tumblr.com/post/77184755232/donato-cretis-astronomical-observations-1711

According to the Vatican catalogue:

"The series of Astronomical observations was commissioned in 1711 by the Bolognese count Luigi Marsili. He had the artist Donato Creti paint all the planets in as many small pictures and made a gift of these to the Pope to convince him of the importance for the Holy Church of an astronomical observatory. The gift made it possible to achieve his goal, because with the support of Clement XI (pontiff from 1700 to 1721) the first public astronomical observatory was opened in Bologna a short time later. The eight small canvases show the planetary system as it was then known: the Sun (cat.40432), the Moon (cat.40433), Mercury (cat.40434), Venus (cat.40435), Mars (cat.40436), Jupiter (cat.40437), Saturn (cat.40438) and a Comet (cat.40439). The planet Uranus, only discovered in 1781, is missing. The presence of the planets is dominant in the composition. They are depicted as observed with telescopes and various optical instruments (for which the artist had precise instructions) by small human figures in eighteenth century clothes, reabsorbed into the vastness of the nocturnal scene."

The Moon in the second painting (the favourite of James) and Jupiter in the sixth both appear to be based on a 1690 publication by Giovanni Domenico Cassini, Nouvelles Decouvertes dans le Globe de Jupiter faites a l'Observatoire Royal in Paris.

https://books.google.cl/books?id=L2G-H7tTW6sC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=nouvelles+decouvertes+dans+le+globe+de+Jupiter&source=bl&ots=O6qJHzj7ul&sig=aeEuCYMyycAiJrifgz3gbfpdxxM&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=nouvelles decouvertes dans le globe de Jupiter&f=false

Perhaps the Moon and Jupiter were the best images available to the artist, but perhaps too, given the possible political nature of the paintings, there is an inference that the research sponsored by the King of France should be copied by the Pope?

An excellent introduction to the history of astronomy in Bologna can be found at the Museo della Specola internet site:

http://museospecola.difa.unibo.it/

Count Luigi Marsili is an interesting figure with a long fascination in astronomy dating back to his teenage years. His uncle had corresponded with Galileo. He set up a working observatory at his family villa, but when he wanted to donate it to the city of Bologna, his family rose up in arms. Instead the count, the Bologna council and the pope worked together on the construction of La Specola.

The telescopes and astronomical equipment seen in the paintings is a apparently a faithful record of the equipment which Marsili actually owned.

 

 

Edited by Putaendo Patrick
spelin & grama
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What a lovely set of images. I must find a print (if one exists) of The Moon. 

James

 

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A friend of my father had found this amateur painting from 1858 of Donati's Comet, and following a post I'd started about it on the BAA's Forums, I traacked down a book covering comets and meteors in British Art which is lovely:

James

 

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An ispirational thread guys.

Isn't the Internet a wonderful resource.

Paul

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James - that looks like a fascinating book.  Jay is such an inspirational astronomer.  I'll have to order myself a copy.  Yes the internet is a wonderful resource but certainly could bankrupt you!

Carolyn

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I have always enjoyed Samuel Palmer's drawings, paintings and etchings of evocative landscape and moonscape featuring the harvest moon, such as this.  

 

 

Samuel_Palmer_-_Kornfeld_im_Mondenschein.jpg

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Van Gogh, for me, and also Munch with his sunsets over water.

Maybe slightly off topic but I also think that this portrait of Newton by Godfrey Kneller is as prescient in portraiture as Newton was in science. Surely this painting could have been produced by an artist of the 20th century? It seems uncanny, to me, and so unlike the courtly portraiture of the 17th century. Newton is just there, alive before your very eyes.

Newton.thumb.JPG.92f0804330ba618204fd960

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