Milton visiting Galileo when a prisoner of the Inquisition. Oil painting by Solomon Alexander Hart, 1847.

  • Hart, Solomon Alexander, 1806-1881.
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About this work


On the wall in the background, a cabinet version of Titian's altarpiece of the murder of St Peter Martyr, the original version of which was destroyed by fire in 1867. As St Peter Martyr was the chief Dominican inquisitor and persecutor of heretics, a painting of his death would have been an especially appropriate picture for Galileo to contemplate. Several cabinet versions of the altarpiece have survived: Christie's, New York, 11 January 1995, lot 28 (67 x 41 cm.); Christie's, London, 24 February 1995, lot 43 (67.6 x 51 cm.); Sotheby's, London Olympia, 6 December 2005 (119 x 73.5 cm.) and (same painting) 25 April 2006, lot 335; Christie's South Kensington, 24 March 2009, lot 46 (68.6 x 51.4 cm.)

Milton referred to his visit to Galileo thus: "There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo grown old a prisoner to the Inquisition, for thinking in Astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought" (Areopagitica, 1644). Neil Harris, 'Galileo as symbol: the "Tuscan artist" in Paradise lost', Annali dell'Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze, 1985, vol. X, fasc, 2, pp. 3-29



Physical description

1 painting : oil on canvas ; canvas 118 x 146 cm


1847 Date 1847 inscribed on the former stretcher

References note

A. Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts: a complete dictionary of contributors ...1769-1904, London 1905, vol. 4, p. 12 (exhibited 1847, no. 385, John Milton visiting Galileo when a prisoner to the Inquisition near Florence in 1638. Hart, Solomon Alexander. 16 Russell Place, Fitzroy Square)
J.J. Fahie, Memorials of Galileo, Leamington Spa 1929, no. XII, pp. 77-80
Marcia Pointon, Milton and English art, Manchester 1970, p. 253
Christopher Wright et al., British and Irish paintings in public collections, New Haven and London: Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2006, p. 396
Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi and Alessandro Tosi, Il cannocchiale e il pennello: nuova scienza e nuova arte nell'età di Galileo, Firenze: Giunti, 2009 (Gamm, Giunti arte mostre musei), p. 301 (reproduced)


Wellcome Collection 45632i

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