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Art and Images in Psychiatry |

Galileo Galilei: Scientist and Artist

James C. Harris, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67(8):770-771. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.95.
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Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Italian mathematician, physicist, astronomer, and suspected heretic, is widely proposed to be the father of modern science. His father, a musicologist, discouraged Galileo's hopes of becoming a painter and encouraged him instead to study medicine. Ultimately Galileo (cover) found mathematics more enticing and joined the faculty in mathematics, first in Pisa and then in Padua. During his 18 years as professor of mathematics in Padua, he embraced experimental science. In 1609 and 1610 he made the first systematic observations of the moon, the Milky Way, and Jupiter's moons and published them in his small classic book, Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger).2 His observations of the moon upset traditional views of a pure unblemished moon, a place linked to the purity of the Virgin Mary. Galileo's moon was irregular, mountainous, and pockmarked with lunar impact craters.

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Justus Sustermans (1597-1681), Flemish. Portrait of Galileo Galilei, 1636. Oil on canvas, 22 × 18⅞ in (56 × 48 cm). Uffizi, Florence, Italy. Photo Credit: Scala/Art Resource, New York, New York.

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Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Italian. Sidereus Nuncius, Venice: Tommaso Baglioni,(Huntington Library 487000:0071). Reproduced by permission of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

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