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Giorgio Vasari, Le opere (Florence, 1878-85), 8 vols.

The Works of Giorgio Vasari

Astronomers and artists alike studied the science of perspective. The title page of the Sidereus nuncius refers to the telescope as a little “perspective tube” (perspicilli).

Galileo grew up in an artistic environment, immersed in the aesthetic traditions and artistic culture of Renaissance Florence. At this time art led mathematics, and artists were more likely to be learning or teaching mathematics than were professors of natural philosophy in the universities.

Vasari dedicated the Lives of Seventy Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, originally published in 1550, to Cosimo I de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Vasari recounted the stories of Michelangelo, Raphael, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, Leon Batista Alberti, Massacio, Leonardo da Vinci, and many others who created the artistic heritage of Galileo’s world.

Galileo's World Exhibition Location

Source: History of Science Collections

Section: Galileo and the Telescope

Object Number: 3

Subject Area(s): Astronomy, Art, Tuscany

Time Period: 16th Century

Region(s): Europe, Italy

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Exhibit Gallery OERs

Art and Astronomy Walking Tour

Art and Astronomy Walking Tour

“What was it like when art and astronomy were intertwined?”

Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, Lorenzo Sirigatti, Galileo... what joins them together?  Why is Galileo's Starry Messenger (1610) displayed alongside Giorgio Vasari's Lives of Eminent Painters and Sculptors

Galileo’s scientific discoveries occurred in the context of a specific artistic culture which possessed sophisticated mathematical techniques for drawing with linear perspective and handling light and shadow.

Do you know someone who received a telescope for Christmas? There's no better way to begin looking through a telescope than to ponder the way Galileo's professional training as an artist prepared him to make his astronomical discoveries.

In the Galileo’s World exhibition, four galleries took their point of departure from Galileo’s Starry Messenger (Sidereus nuncius, 1610):  
• Galileo and Perspective Drawing  
• Galileo and the Telescope   
• The Moon and the Telescope   
• The Sky at Night

These distinct but overlapping galleries were on physical display in different places and combinations during the course of the Galileo’s World exhibition, most notably at the National Weather Center and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.  Various books from these galleries are part of the current Rotating Display and the "The Sky Tonight reprise" gallery, including Galileo’s Starry Messenger itself.

Use this handout to aid you in you as you walk through the 2017 Rotating Display and The Sky at Night reprise gallery.