Science and Art: Prado explores the mutual influence of the universe in the work of great artists

Art and science are intertwined in the journey through the centuries embodied in the works of the Prado Museum’s collection proposed by astrophysicist Montserrat Villar in the exhibition “Reflections of the Universe”, in which the influence of perception and knowledge about the universe on artistic representation is revealed.

With a selection of 20 works by relevant authors such as Patinir, Rubens, El Bosco, Murillo, Zurbarán or Tiepolo, the diversity and richness of the Prado collection enables this new approach supported by the itinerary established by Montserrat Villar, a physician in astrophysics from the Supreme Council of Research Scientific.

The book “Reflections of the Universe at the Prado Museum” explains the relationship between how perception and knowledge about the universe “changes with the progress of science and how these developments have found visual expression in the art of the past”, the museum notes about this specimen that it can be visited until next October 16.

The itinerary proposes a different approach to the selection of works from the Museo Nacional del Prado collection that reflects “the fascination with the universe – the need to interpret, understand and predict its signs” – and the evolution of the perception of a world full of myths, stories, symbols, and scholarly research, from classical Greece with all its differences.

The exhibition is divided into four independent and complementary thematic tracks, such as “The Myth of Flat Earth”, “Myths in the Stars”, “When the Moon Lost Its Purity” and “The Telescope Revolution”.

In the selection of works, for example, there is “Passage of Styx” (1520-24) by Joachim Patinir, in which the painter draws a line of the horizon representing the end of the world, and beyond it an unknown abyss, as conceived in contrast to what arose from Greek thought (6th century B.C. ), in medieval Christian Europe.

or the “Third Day of Creation” from the outside of the famous “Triptych of the Garden of Earthly Delights” (1490-1500) by Bosch, which represents the “dry land”, flat that floats on the “water under the sky”´, while in “The Seven Liberal Arts” (1435), Giovanni Dal Ponte reaffirmed Ptolemy’s model of the universe, with a fixed spherical Earth as its center.

In the second moment, myths appear in a star-studded vault in the form of heroes, gods, animals, and mythical creatures, with selected works inspired by these characters from classic myths turned into stars or constellations. As well as “Perseus liberates Andromeda” (1639-1641) by Pedro Pablo Rubens and Jack Jordan, “Diana and Callisto” (1635) by Rubens.

In the passage “When the Moon Lost Its Purity”, the idea of ​​the Moon is taken as full – until the seventeenth century – with the Greek gods Artemis and Roman Diana representing chastity, and among their attributes the allegory of satellite purity. This idea is reflected in various versions of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, such as that by Robbins – the only person who did not draw full moons – which takes the Virgin by standing on the moon in a “hard and opaque” ball, like made of lead, “away.” On the crystalline and unpolluted vision of advocates of its “pure essence,” highlights DPA.

The museum says the moon lost its purity in the 17th century. It is the century of scholars such as Galileo Galilei – who advocated a rough, opaque and imperfect moon seen through a telescope – and Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), and artists such as Ludovico Sigoli, Zurbaran, Pacheco and Murillo and the German Adam Elsheimer who pondered its essence.

Finally, after the publication of “On the Revolutions of Heavenly Bodies” in 1543 by the Polish mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) who postulated a heliocentric model of the solar system, and with Galileo’s introduction of the use of the telescope as a scientific instrument in 1609, and works such as “The Birth of the Milky Way” ‘ and ‘Saturn Devouring a Son’ (1636-38) by Rubens and ‘Ceres in the House of Hecuba (1605)’ by Elsheimer, ch.4 account.

“This itinerary is a journey through the universe to be able to see certain works through an astronomer’s glasses. I have never attempted to provide insight from art history, but rather my own vision through an extensive documentation process through,” the astronomer drew, DPA reported.

Montserrat Villar has a PhD in astrophysics and researches active galaxies, and is a promoter of the CNRS’s “Culture with C for the Universe” project, which aims to disseminate astronomy and astrobiology through art, poetry and music.

Museo Nacional del Prado invites you to this unusual new look at its collection with the support of the American Friends of the Prado Museum and the Arthur and Holly Magill Foundation. (blameable)

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