Astronomical Images : Portrait of Galileo Galilei engraved by Jacob van der Heyden

Galileo Galilei

Astronomical Images

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This frontispiece portrait of Galileo is taken from his <i>Systema cosmicum</i>, the 1635 Latin edition of his <i>Dialogue</i>. It was engraved by Jacob van der Heyden (1573-1645). The image is derived from the frontispiece portrait (after a painting by Francesco Villamena) in Galileo's <i>Istoria e dimostrazioni intorno alle macchie solari</i> (1613), and <i>Il saggiatore</i> (1623), though reversed due to the process of tracing and engraving. The inscription reads: Galileo Galilei, Lyncean, philosopher and mathematician of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. This portrait was in turn copied (and thereby reversed again) by John Wilkins for the frontispiece of his 1640 text, <i>A Discourse Concerning a New World and another Planet</i>, which depicts a full-length figure of Galileo alongside Kepler and Copernicus. The telescope held by the cherub at the top of this portrait is also appropriated by Wilkins, where it is instead held by Galileo himself. This borrowing and adapting of earlier pictorial elements reflects a common practice in early modern printing.</p>


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