Museoteca - The astronomer (also called the astrologist), Vermeer, Johannes
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Work information

Title: The astronomer (also called the astrologist)
Artist: Vermeer, Johannes
Technique: Oil on canvas

The astronomer's office is rocked by a soft and light side, hand on the celestial globe (study gesture); the scholar is surrounded by objects skillfully ordered and described realistically. Nordic painting comes off the Italian poesis ut picture: it no longer has this narrative purpose but it becomes descriptive says Svetlana Alpers in The Art portray (Paris, 1990). Within visual culture, she approaches the observation sciences, Alpers does not hesitate to get in touch with scientific advances of the time, including Johannes Kepler, the famous German astronomer who studied effects of lenses and new perceptions of the visible world they generate. Objects of this intimate scene could be almost any identified: the celestial globe Jodocus Hondius (1600), an astronomy textbook and geography of Adriaensz Metius (1621), a compass and a former astrolabe. As for the astronomer, some saw it as Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch naturalist Delft, but identification remains uncertain. Anyway, affiliation with the scientific advances of the seventeenth century is obvious. But this painting would it be merely descriptive? The small picture on the right, a Finding of Moses Peter Lely (1618-1680) brings a symbolic value: Moses, the first guide, echoes with the astronomer who made figure scout. This religious connotation questions the idea of ​​a purely realistic description, astronomer tends toward a stylization close to allegory, and fine combination of the elements that surround it contributes.

The large number of Dutch paintings of astronomers at this time reveals the interest in the study of the universe and its effects on humans. In addition, astronomy was very useful in shipping, pillar of the economy of the dutch golden age. Vermeer is known as a painter of the female figure, and man is often represented in association with, but rarely alone. The Astronomer and The Geographer are the only tables with isolated male figure to have survived. The painters who focus on the man usually show in their professional environment (physician, philosopher, painter), accompanied by attributes (manual pallet globe). The Astronomer by Candlelight (Los Angeles, Getty Museum) by Gerrit Dou shows an astronomer looking race of star like that of Vermeer, he played a personification of the pursuit of knowledge. The scientist in the study, often painted by Rembrandt and his pupils, is actually a derivation of the Christian theme of St. Jerome (the scholar in his study, surrounded by objects useful for practice), under a secular mode.

Source: Musée du Louvre

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