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Daniel Maclise - Caxton Showing the First Specimen of His Printing to King Edward IV (1851)

Edouard Ender - Tycho Brahe Demonstrating a Celestial Globe to the Emperor Rudolph II in Prague (1855)

Henry Gillard Glindoni - John Dee Performing an Experiment Before Queen Elizabeth I (n.d.)

For today's December Double I've selected not two but three historical paintings which show noble figures presented with either scientific discoveries or technological advances from their respective time periods. Mind you, just to point out the obvious, these works are dramatic depictions of alleged events which would've taken place hundreds of years prior to them being committed to canvas, so one would regard these paintings as any sort of reliable documentation. That said, I find it neat how all three works share a similar sentiment on this very particular theme.

Of these three works, my favorite is ‘Caxton Showing the First Specimen of His Printing to King Edward IV’ by Irish painter Daniel Maclise. Though very busy and crowded with details, there’s still something very natural in Maclise’s scene. Every time I view ‘Caxton’ I notice something new which contributes to the piece. I imagine this as a large scale historical painting to which a moderately sized jpg file could not to any proper justice.

‘Tycho Brahe Demonstrating a Celestial Globe to the Emperor Rudolph II in Prague’ by Austrian painter Edouard Ender and ‘John Dee Performing an Experiment Before Queen Elizabeth I’ by English painter Henry Gillard Glindoni are both commendable works, and each contain their own rich details which require multiple viewings to fully absorb. Compared to Maclise’s painting though, I’m distracted by the arguably over-regal presentation of Emperor Rudolph in Ender’s work, and something about Glindoni piece fails to resonate with me a dramatic level. In Endor’s painting I’m more interested in the figures in the background, especially that young man, possibly a self portrait of the artist himself, staring out at us from the shadows alongside the staircase. Conversely, the true star in Glindoni’s painting would be that crocodile hanging over the scene!
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