Artibus et Historiae no. 52 (XXVI)

2005, ISSN 0391-9064

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LUBOMÍR KONEČNÝ - Peter Paul Rubens, Galileo Galilei, and the Battle on the White Mountain

P. P. Rubens's Apocalyptic Woman, painted 1623-1625 for the cathedral of Freising as its altarpiece, and now in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, has recently been interpreted as a work imbued with several layers of meaning. One of these layers refers to specific historical circumstances under which the painting came into being - especially to the fact it was ordered by Maximilian of Bavaria, the head of imperial troops at the Battle fought on the White Mountain near Prague on 8 November 1620. In this article, this topical significance of the painting, proposed by Konrad Renger in 1990, is further substantiated by connecting Rubens's depiction of the moon therein with a passage in Galileo Galilei's Sidereus Nuncius of 1610, where the round cavity around the middle of the moon was compared in its shape with Bohemia on the map of earth. In Rubens's picture, this shape can be seen under the right foot of the Apocalyptic Woman.

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