Art Illustrates Science: Galileo, a Blemished Moon, and a Parabola of Blood

  • David R. Topper


Visual Imagery Projectile Motion Chord Progression Crescent Moon Female Hero 
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  1. I first told this story of Galileo and Artemisia in a paper written with a student: David Topper and Cynthia Gillis, “Trajectories of Blood: Artemisia Gentileschi and Galileo’s Parabolic Path,” Women’s Art Journal 17, No. 1 (Summer, 1996), pp. 10–13.Google Scholar
  2. Artemisia’s letter to Galileo is reprinted in the appendices to Mary D. Garrard, Artemisia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989), which also contains the transcript of the rape trial. The most thorough study of the trial is Elizabeth S. Cohen, “The Trails of Artemisia Gentileschi: A Rape as History,” Sixteenth Century Journal 31, No. 1 (2000), pp. 47–75. On Galileo and Cigoli, see Miles Chappell, “Cigoli, Galileo, and Invidia,Art Bulletin (March, 1975), pp. 91–98. Cavalieri’s illustration of the parabolic trajectory is reprinted in William B. Ashworth, Jr., “Iconography of a New Physics,” History and Technology 4 (1987), pp. 267–297, on p. 274.Google Scholar
  3. On Galileo’s art criticism, see Erwin Panofsky, Galileo as a Critic of the Arts (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1954). On Galileo and visual imagery, see Mary G. Winkler and Albert Van Helden, “Representing the Heavens: Galileo and Visual Astronomy,” Isis 83 (June, 1992), pp. 195–217. For more on Galileo and artists, see Eileen Reeves, Painting the Heavens: Art and Science in the Age of Galileo (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  4. More on my parallel fallacy thesis is in David Topper, “The Parallel Fallacy: On Comparing Art and Science,” British Journal of Aesthetics, 30, No. 4 (October, 1990), pp. 311–318. After publishing this argument, I was pleased to find a parallel thesis by Owen Gingerich, “Circumventing Newton: A Study in Scientific Creativity,” American Journal of Physics, 46, No. 3 (March, 1978), pp. 202–206, reprinted in his book, The Eye of Heaven: Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler (New York: American Institute of Physics, 1993), Chapter 25.Google Scholar
  5. Pierre Duhem, The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory,trans. Philip P. Wiener (New York: Atheneum, 1962); this is a reprint of the second edition of 1916. On Duhem’s art, see Stanley L. Jaki, The Physicist as Artist: The Landscapes of Pierre Duhem(Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1988); I reviewed this book in Leonardo 23 (1990), p. 454.Google Scholar
  6. The Berlioz anecdote is from Charles Rosen, “On Playing the Piano,” The New York Review of Books (October 21, 1999), pp. 49–54.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Topper
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of WinnipegWinnipegCanada R3B2E9

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