Adam Elsheimer

Adam Elsheimer

German painter
Date of Birth: 18.03.1578
Country: Italy

Content:
  1. Adam Elsheimer: A Pioneer in Depicting the Celestial Sphere
  2. Observing the Night Sky in "The Flight into Egypt"
  3. Illusion of Vast Space in Elsheimer's Landscapes

Adam Elsheimer: A Pioneer in Depicting the Celestial Sphere

Adam Elsheimer, a German painter, is considered one of the first artists to accurately portray the celestial sphere. It is highly likely that on June 16, 1609, around 21:45, he observed the night sky in the vicinity of Rome through a telescope. Elsheimer was a student of Philipp Uffenbach, but he was heavily influenced by foreign masters such as Gillis van Coninxloo and Lucas van Valkenborch, who had emigrated from the Netherlands. Around 1600, the artist settled in Rome, where he formed close friendships with Peter Paul Rubens and Paul Bril. Although Elsheimer painted very little and left behind few artworks, they were highly valued by fellow artists and collectors during his lifetime, particularly for their skillful rendering of light and shadow.

Observing the Night Sky in "The Flight into Egypt"

Adam Elsheimer is one of the first artists to accurately depict the celestial sphere. It is highly likely that on June 16, 1609, around 21:45, he observed the night sky in the vicinity of Rome through a telescope. He captured his observations in the painting "The Flight into Egypt," which is housed in the Pinakothek museum in Munich. This was discovered by researchers at the German Museum in 2005. The moon and the stars of the Milky Way depicted in the painting correspond to the latitude of Rome. This small-sized painting, executed on a copper plate, presents the scene of Aeneas' escape with his family from the burning city of Troy. In the dark night illuminated by the torches held by the fleeing refugees, one can discern the outlines of fortresses, temples, and the wooden horse of the Greeks. The astonishing dramatic effect is achieved through the flickering flashes of unsettling light in the black impenetrable darkness that envelops the earth.

Illusion of Vast Space in Elsheimer's Landscapes

A distinctive feature of Elsheimer's landscapes is the illusion of immense space created by juxtaposing the foreground and the background. For instance, one is captivated by the grandeur of the star-studded sky with a passing comet reflected in the smoothness of a river, stretching endlessly and boundlessly above the slumbering earth, over a small group of people warming themselves by a campfire on the shore. The cozy, peaceful fire glowing in the darkness and the cool radiance of the stars above are juxtaposed and felt in their unique beauty of the great and the small, the finite and the eternal. Through his mastery of light and shadow, Elsheimer achieves rare painterly unity and poetic atmosphere in his works.

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