This is one of the best preserved portraits of the great scientist Galileo Galilei, which was painted in 1636 by the artist Justus Sustermans(1597 – 1681), a painter of Flemish origin, specifically born in Antwerp, but who achieved success and prestige in Italy, where he mainly developed his work as a portraitist.
Galileo Galilei by Justus Sustermans
The training of thispainter of the Baroquebegan in his native Belgian city, but he soon went toParisto continue with the formation of him. And it was there that he made contact with the powerfulMedicis family, great lovers of patronage from centuries ago. In fact, the artist began to be known as Giusto Sustermans and went on to be the court painter for several Medicis dukes: Cosme II, Ferdinand II and Cosme III , for which he obviously moved to Italy, and more specifically to the city of Florence.
There he reached the zenith of his art, especially with an endless list of portraits he made, although among his pictorial production other works of religious, historical and mythological themes have also come down to us.
The truth is that it was because of his relationship with the Medicis that he established contact withGalileo, one of the greatest scientists in all of history, and that he had the favor of the Florentine dukes,despite his confrontation with the upper echelons of the Catholic Church.
In fact, Galileo (1564 – 1642) invented the telescope and he enjoyed this singular invention on many occasions contemplating the sky with Cosme II de Medicis, a great fan of astronomy and that he enjoyed the company of Galilei both in Florence and in Pisa, where he even had his own observatory built.
Sustermanspainted Galileo Galilei on several occasions, and up to three works with his portrait are attributed to him. And possibly the most valuable of them is the one we show you here, the one he made in 1636, when the scientist was already an old man who was over 70 years old. An oil painting that is currently kept in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
But not only was he a very old person with severe he alth problems, but by then Galileo had been sentenced by the Roman Inquisition to house arrest for life. The reason had been to defend the theory that the Earth is not the center of the Universe and that our planet revolves around the Sun. A conclusion he had reached after his astronomical studies and his discoveries made thanks to the invention of the telescope, with the which was portrait in this work. But which he had to publicly renounce after that inquisitorial trial. However, his phrase "and yet it moves" is famous with which in his innermost heart he expressed his conviction that he was right.