Luna and her changes : on the depiction of the Moon
Source document: Opuscula historiae artium. 2011, vol. 60 , iss. 2, pp. 110-125
ISSN1211-7390 (print)2336-4467 (online)
License: Not specified license
The starting-point for this study is Jaroslav Panuška's drawing Moonscape from the year 1901. The author searches for the meaning of this work by examining the broader context of the various ways in which the Moon has been depicted and its symbolism, linked with water, woman, fertility, and cyclic recurrence. The study starts by outlining the archaic and mythical-poetical roots of lunar symbolism, and then presents three faces of the Moon: its representation as a beautiful (usually female) face, its representation in the context of alchemy, and finally its representation in the context of astronomy. Particular attention is paid to the watershed year 1610, when Galileo Galilei described the true appearance of the Moon with the help of a telescope: the author examines the impact this had in the field of the visual arts. Two differing approaches to depicting the Moon are identified: the Moon as a symbol (religious, alchemical, or astronomical), and the Moon as a cosmic body in the context of astronomical representation. The aim of the article is to examine to what extent Panuška's drawing draws on traditional symbolism and how much it is inspired by the astronomical representation and thinking that was to be found in the popular scientific literature of the 19th century.