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Lorenzo Sirigatti, La Pratica di Prospettiva (Venice, 1596)

The Practice of Perspective

This beautiful work by Sirigatti, published in 1596, brings the tradition of perspective drawing up to Galileo’s time. Sirigatti was a member of the Academy of Drawing (Accademia del Disegno), a school for artists and engineers in Florence. 

The work contains 64 full-page engravings with accompanying exercises. Any young artist or mathematician working his way through Sirigatti and learning to create the spikes on a ring diagram (such as the one shown here) would master perspective and the handling of light and shadow (chiaroscuro). Each spike must cast an appropriate shadow, not unlike the patches Galileo would later discern through his “perspective tube” and interpret as the shadows of mountains protruding up from the surface of the Moon.

The title page retains its original margin.  Its outer deckled edges are folded in. 

Galileo's World Exhibition Location

Source: History of Science Collections

Section: Galileo and Perspective

Section Number: 1

Object Number: 11

Subject Area(s): Art, Mathematics, Architecture, Astronomy

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.


Pythagorean Solids: Five Regular Solids

Pythagorean Solids Learning Leaflet

Can you identify the five regular solids? 

Throughout history the regular solids were studied with keen interest by astronomers, mathematicians, artists, architects and philosophers. The Pythagoreans proved that there are only five regular solids: the cube, triangle, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron.