Jump to Navigation

A New Heaven: Galileo and the Artists

Print this article   Email this article

Margaret M. Byard investigates the intriguing links between the astronomical discoveries of Galileo and the paintings of his Italian contemporaries.

Fresco by Giuseppe Bertini depicting Galileo showing the Doge of Venice how to use the telescopeIn recent years we have cheerfully come to accept a 'photograph' of a galaxy light years away in space as a lozenge in purples and blues. Our familiar continents are shown in deep black surrounded by bright green oceans, their depths varying from yellow to brick red. Venus, the serene evening star, is a whirling dervish of intense blue and green. This extraordinary disorientation that we accept has come about because of science's new techniques of imaging through infra-red, radio, and X-ray radiation. Through them we get satellite 'photos' created out of dot impressions received from space and assembled in photomontages to give us an idea of our world and what is beyond it. These new ways of imaging were only developed about thirty years ago and are part of a scientific revolution that has taken most of us unaware. Only now, since IBM's recent exhibition 'Twenty-Five Years of Space Photography' and others like it, do we begin to realise what a mind-shaking change in our way of seeing has taken place.

 This article is available to History Today online subscribers only. If you are a subscriber, please log in.

Please choose one of these options to access this article:

Call our Subscriptions department on +44 (0)20 3219 7813 for more information.

If you are logged in but still cannot access the article, please contact us

About Us | Contact Us | Advertising | Subscriptions | Newsletter | RSS Feeds | Ebooks | Podcast | Submitting an Article
Copyright 2012 History Today Ltd. All rights reserved.