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Portrait Art, Astronomer, Galileo Galilei, Patinated Metal Statue Sculpture, Antique, 19th Century

[Galileo Galilei]
Continental: 2nd Half 19th Century
Patinated metal on oval slate base
16 inches high
14.5 x 9 inches, oval base with flat back

Seated portrait statue depicting the famous Italian scientist and philosopher Galileo (1564-1642), shown as elderly man dressed in a long, fur-trimmed robe. He is leaning on a bookshelf, deep in thought as he contemplates a globe in his lap. Although untitled, the shape of the beard and prominent forehead resemble a number of well-known portraits of Galileo, including one painted in 1636 by Justus Sustermans that Galileo originally sent as a gift to a friend; it is now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The offered statue also relates to the depiction of Galileo in a funerary monument installed in Santa Croce in 1737, which shows him with one hand resting on a globe. The tercentenary of Galileo’s birth was in 1864; this might have been the occasion for the production of portrait statues such as this.

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Galileo attended medical school in Padua, but questions about physical phenomena captured his curiosity and through his investigations, he discovered a number of underlying laws of physics governing motion and dynamics that remain at the foundation of modern science. He turned his attention to astronomy in the early 1600s, and with his telescope discovered craters on the moon, sunspots and four moons of Jupiter. His observations of the phases of Venus demonstrated the accuracy of the Copernican model of the solar system. He published a comparison of the Copernican and Ptolemaic systems, which included the disparagement of an argument for the Ptolemaic system favored by the Pope. This caused trouble with the Catholic hierarchy, and Galileo was placed on house arrest and forced to publicly renounce his Copernican theory.

Condition: Generally very good, with the usual overall toning and wear to finish. Minor chips on base, unobtrusive.


“Galileo Galilei Tomb Santa Croce Florence.” Wikimedia Commons. 3 June 2011. (23 April 2018).

“Galileo’s Portraits.” Scientific Itineraries in Tuscany. 11 October 2010. (23 April 2018).

“Portrait of Galileo.” Virtual Uffizi Gallery. 2007-2018. (23 April 2018).

Weisstein, Eric W. “Galileo Galilei.” Eric Weisstein’s World of Biography. Wolfram Research. (4 October 2004).

Additional information


19th Century