Science in Context


Supplement: Galileo in Context
2.The Context of the Artists: Astronomy and its New Representations

Gazing Hands and Blind Spots: Galileo as Draftsman 1


Horst  Bredekamp a1
a1 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

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The article deals with the interrelation between Galileo and the visual arts. It presents a couple of drawings from the hand of Galileo and confronts them with Viviani's report that Galileo had not only wanted to become an artist in his youth but stayed close to the field of visual arts throughout his lifetime. In the ambiance of these drawings the famous moon watercolors are not in the dark. They represent a very acute and reasonable tool to convince the people who trusted images more than words. The article ends with Panofsky's argument that it was Galileo's anti-Mannerist notion of art that evoked a repulsion of Kepler's ellipses. It tries to show that it was again an aesthetical prejudice that hindered Einstein from accepting Panofsky's theory.



Footnotes

1 *This paper was presented in different forms at the Hamburger Kunstakademie in June 1993, as an inaugural lecture at the Humboldt University in December 1994, and at the Zürich Galilei-Symposium from January 1996. Parts of it were published under the title, “Galileo Galilei als Künstler” (Bredekamp 1996a); parts were published under the title, “Zwei frühe Skizzenblätter Galileo Galileis” (Bredekamp 1996b) and parts appeared as Bredekamp 1995, 366ss. I am grateful to Jürgen Renn for his critique and help.