Title: Early Telescopes and Ancient Scientific Instruments in the Paintings of Jan Brueghel the Elder Author: Pierluigi Selvelli, Paolo Molaro (INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste, Italy) Ancient instruments of high interest for research on the origin and diffusion of early scientific devices in the late XVI - early XVII centuries are reproduced in three paintings by Jan Brueghel the Elder. We investigated the nature and the origin of these instruments, in particular the spyglass depicted in a painting dated 1609-1612 that represents the most ancient reproduction of an early spyglass, and the two sophisticated spyglasses with draw tubes that are reproduced in two paintings, dated 1617-1618. We suggest that these two instruments may represent early examples of keplerian telescopes. Concerning the other scientific instruments, namely an astrolabe, an armillary sphere, a nocturnal, a proportional compass, surveying instruments, a Mordente's compass, a theodolite, etc., we point out that most of them may be associated with Michiel Coignet, cosmographer and instrument maker at the Court of the Archduke Albert VII of Hapsburg in Brussels. Read more (2188kb, PDF)
One of Brueghel's paintings, according to study authors Paolo Molaro and Pierluigi Selvelli, contains the first known depiction of a telescope. In Extensive Landscape with View of the Castle of Mariemont, circa 1608-1611, Archduke Albert VII of Hapsburg holds a spyglass of the kind Galileo famously trained on the moon 400 years ago this fall. (Brueghel was Albert's court painter.) What is more, Molaro and Selvelli argue, letters and documents from the 17th century suggest that the archduke obtained telescopes from their as-yet-unidentified inventor.