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A man with a distinctive beard and moustache sits in a chair looking out. He wears a black ecclesiastical robe and holds a geometric compass in his left hand. On the table to the left is an armillary sphere and a sheet of paper with a horoscope, on which rests a book inscribed along the edge of its pages: Efemer (the last letter is not certain).
When this painting was bequeathed to the National Gallery in 1908, it was thought to be a portrait of the astronomer Galileo Galilei by the Florentine painter Domenico Cresti, called Passignano (1558–1638). Given the identification of the sitter and Piazza’s probable age, the portrait was most likely painted in Rome in the late seventeenth century.
Oil on canvas
H 113.7 x W 83.8 cm
Bequeathed by George Fielder, 1908