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A Mysterious Masterpiece

Last Build Date: Wed, 06 Feb 2013 15:25:10 +0000


Comment on Cornelis Drebbel’s Perpetuum Mobile in the Linder Gallery by Jennifer

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 15:25:10 +0000

As Rich says, the depiction of the perpetuum mobile is too shadowy to reveal anything about the structure of the device, but the very fact that it has been dumped in a dark corner, where there is no possibility of its functioning, may be its real significance in the picture. Its usual place in galley interior paintings, on the sunny table under the window, has been taken over by a very fine example of an armillary sphere, i.e. a serious scientific instrument of the time. Could this not be a deliberate denigration of the magical / Paracelsian / Rosicrucian interpretations of the cosmos that some of its admirers attached to the perpetuum mobile? Furthermore, Thomas Tymme in his Dialogue Philosophicall claimed the perpetuum mobile as 'evidence' for the geocentric world system, so the device's ignominious situation may in itself be a contribution to the debate going on elsewhere in the picture. In this connection, may I make a suggestion about the shadowy object next to the perpetuum mobile, which looks like a rear side view of the muscular torso of a statue in a kneeling posture? One of the best-known statues in the Farnese collection is the second-century AD kneeling statue of Atlas supporting a celestial globe on his shoulders, illustrating the classical myth of the giant who held up the heavens. This statue could well have been known to the painter(s) involved in this picture. The juxtaposition of Atlas and perpetuum mobile in the gloomy corner would be a further derogatory comment on the worth of the latter; the myth of Atlas and the weird and wonderful theories associated with the machine are on a par and to be dismissed to obscurity. The third object in the corner, comparatively well-lit, is a small, dignified statue of a bearded man in the guise of a classical Greek philosopher or writer. Given that Drebbel's perpetuum mobile was so often linked in poetry and prose with the marvellous globe invented in antiquity by the Syracusan natural philosopher and mathematician Archimedes, it would make sense that this figure is intended to represent him.

Comment on Announcing the Linder Gallery Prize by ALBERTO LUALDI

Sat, 12 Jan 2013 16:11:03 +0000

Dear Mr. Cordover, after having read all the recent literature about the Linder Gallery painting, and have had few emails with Alexander Marr, I have speculated on some points about the timing of the painting and its author; I would really appreciate your opinion on these and know your though. Here are some notes just to know if I have well understood the matter in order to propose some ideas and considerations to work on. • Oddi left Milan for Lucca in Spring 1625 and stayed there until 1636. He probably had not seen the painting. (But I have found the presence of Oddi in Milan on March 9th,1626; Archivio Stato Milano, Arch. Not. 27780) • Oddi on February 10th ,1625 was still in Milano (in Campo Santo) living behind the Duomo (see foreword of “Lo Squadro”) and taught mathematics at the Scuole Piattine, just at the opposite corner of the Duomo square. • Oddi’s medal was ready in 1627. • The time-span allowed to finish the painting is therefore 1627-March 1629 (Caravaggio’s letter to Oddi). Tabulae Rudolphinae were already printed. Why in the painting the title is misspelled in “Tabula Rudolfine”?A bad knowledge of latin ?A later addendum ? • From Caravaggio’s letter we desume that Oddi was the main responsible for the subject of the painting. Oddi and Linder were both in Milan until Spring 1625(or 1626). • In May, 1623, Oddi sent a note to Linder about a payment “to the Flemish”… was it for the drawing and an anticipation for the painting? • Linder stayed in Milan also during the great Plague of 1629-30 and only in 1635 moved to Venezia. • It is unquestionable that the Windsor drawing is related to the painting project and therefore older, being in my opinion a sort of anticipation of what the painting will be. • Knowing to be a little provocative, I suggest that the three men in the drawing could be (from left) Oddi (a part from the nose, he is more similar than Linder), or Linder, Van Dick (see self-portrait of c.1622) and Van Balen (1575-1632)(see self-portrait painted by Van Dick) or Francken II (1581-1642) (see self-portrait) or Rubens. The painters in the drawing are presenting to Oddi the project for the painting to have suggestions from him. • Coming to the painting, and deducing from their self-portraits, neither Van Dick, Van Balen or Franken II correspond both for physical characters and age to the little, young (about 30 year old?), quite fat and with a round nose painter at the left of an unquestionable Linder. • Again about the painting, the presence of the painter indicates perhaps who finished the painting, painting that most probably was the work of a “bottega” with more than one master. The quality is outstanding, I do not think that Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-1678) could be so skilfull… but his father or the three above-mentioned painters could be. The Younger was a very good friend of Van Dick, they were in Italy together (Milan and Sicily) during the first half of ‘20s. He arrived in Milan on June 20th, 1622 and lived by Ercole Bianchi who was strictly connected to Oddi. The two painters were protected by Federico Borromeo. Ercole Bianchi (1576-1636) acted as an agent for Federico Borromeo between Milan and Antwerp and some Flemish painters were in Lombardy at that period. Jan Brueghel the Younger possibly completed the painting after his father death (1625) and thought to put himself on the small painting. I think that the Rothshild legacy stating Brueghel the Elder as painter could be well believed to be valid. • Regarding the books in the background bookcase, the one on the bottom left could be Alfonsus (for Tabulae Alphonsine) a well-known astronomical almanac in use until the late Reinassance. Also another book (in the upper shelf) seems to be “N…. del Euclide”. • We know that Oddi didn’t like very much the optical attitude of Galileo to make observation with the telescope; this is why there is not a telescope in the painting (and in the drawing). And why there are no Galileo’s book[...]

Comment on Announcing the Linder Gallery Prize by Ron

Tue, 10 Jul 2012 14:54:10 +0000

Thanks Laura, for your supportive posting. Daniele Crespi certainly knew of Peter Linder and Mutio Oddi's friendship and would highly likely have had first hand knowledge of the project that became the Linder Gallery Interior. Perhaps you will find some evidence in his papers of who Linder and Oddi worked with to create the painting. RHC

Comment on Announcing the Linder Gallery Prize by Laura Facchin

Mon, 09 Jul 2012 14:32:17 +0000

I am very interested considering my past and present research on Daniele Crespi and Milanese patronage in the first decades of XVIIth century. It think the Linder Gallery Prize is a very good and new idea for art historians (in Italy, at least). Best regards, L.F.

Comment on Cornelis Drebbel’s Perpetuum Mobile in the Linder Gallery by Richard SantaColoma

Mon, 10 May 2010 13:36:08 +0000

Since I took the photo used in your blog post, I thought it might be OK to post a link to a page I had made (link above), where it came from, which looks into the workings of these devices. Your readers might be interested in some of the ideas I have explored, and the comparisons to the other known illustrations of Drebbel's perpetuums. The emergence of the Lidner example is of course the first new one in some time... and also, very rare. Until it was posted online, I had held hope that it would advance our understanding of these... unfortunately, as you say, it is shadowy, and so will not reveal anything. While I am posting (I have not yet read Gorman's book), has this painting yet been thought a Stalbemt, like the Prado and Walter's collectors galleries? If not, why not? Great site, BTW... Rich.

Comment on Obelisks by jerrilynn urban

Tue, 06 Apr 2010 18:56:47 +0000

I have a painting that is signed and # on the rear, right side of the canvas. The signature is hard to make out. My guess would be lwder by the way it is written. It is large in size and uses gold, blue and green colors mostly. There is a brown and gray and white bird with red over it's head which is the focal point if the painting. Does anyone have any ideas who the artist is? Thank you so much.

Comment on Cornelis Drebbel’s Perpetuum Mobile in the Linder Gallery by Francis Franck

Mon, 08 Feb 2010 18:29:38 +0000

On you'll find an article written by Heinrich Hiesserle von Chodaw in 1621 containing a functional description and a drawing of the instrument shown in this painting.

Comment on Cornelis Drebbel’s Perpetuum Mobile in the Linder Gallery by Hubert

Sun, 07 Feb 2010 20:20:02 +0000

About Drebbel, take a look at and read the dissertation of Dr. Vera Keller: Cornelis Drebbel; Fame and the making of modernity (Princeton, 2009)

Comment on Drawing and Painting? Art and Science? by Jennifer Drake-Brockman (Speake)

Thu, 14 Jan 2010 10:23:19 +0000

This reading of the relationship between the old man and the girl doesn't really depend on my earlier comment about the possibility that the old man is blind (though if he were this would point to the notion of the blind seer who because of his physical disaability sees the more deeply through the eye of his mind). Rather than anything as specific as Science or Disegno, might he not stand for the power of the intellect without whose touch the visual arts sprawl slumbering in disarray?

Comment on An alternative candidate for Disegno? by Jennifer Drake-Brockman (Speake)

Wed, 13 Jan 2010 10:51:17 +0000

The fixity of the gaze of the old man proposed as a portrait of Kepler suggests to me that he is blind - or nearly so. The droop of the left eyelid may suggest that he has suffered a stroke.