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Bernardo Strozzi

Eratosthenes Teaching in Alexandria


Bernardo Strozzi
Genoa 1581 – Venice 1644


Eratosthenes Teaching in Alexandria


About 1635


Oil on canvas


78.9 x 99.4 cm


Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1959.1225


Western Art

Eratosthenes of Cyrene (about 276-about 194 B.C.), a Greek astronomer, mathematician, geographer and philosopher, was the director of the famous library at Alexandria in Egypt, considered to be one of the 7 Wonders of the world. He was the first to calculate the circumference of the Earth and determine the size of the Sun and the Moon, as well as their distance from Earth. This intriguing painting was done at the time when Galileo’s teachings on astronomy were being condemned by the Church. This is a fine example of Strozzi’s mature work, reflecting the confluence of his sources: Venice and Northern Italy in their splendid colours; the evocation of surfaces and textures; the painterly treatment of flesh echoes that of Flemish masters; the Caravaggesque way that the figures emerge into strong light from a dark background.

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