The style of Florentine painting around 1600, with its elements of mannerism and anti-mannerism, is still hard to explain, and Cigoli was one of the most prominent representatives of this rather distinct school. Without going into any of the astronomical problems involved here, I would like to demonstrate through a small but hopefully significant example that style was not something acting behind the back of the artists, but instead something that was imposed in a most conscious praxis. This example concerns Cigoli’s collaboration with Galileo Galilei. The two men were dearest friends since the 1580s when both of them were taught by the Florentine mathematician Ostilio Ricci. Together they developed a new style of epistemological drawing during the months of their collaboration on the representation of sunspots between February and August 1612….
[This is a chapter excerpted from “Medieval Renaissance Baroque: A Cat’s Cradle for Marilyn Aronberg Lavin,” edited by David A. Levine and Jack Freiberg (Italica Press, New York, 2010).]