How often do astronomical objects appear in art and architecture? That seems to depend on where you are. If you are in a museum in Cincinnati, Ohio, you might see very little. If you are in a market square in San Antonio, Texas, you might find yourself surrounded by it.
When my wife and I were in Cincinnati to visit the observatory there (click here and here for posts on that observatory), we decided to visit the Cincinnati Art Museum. The goal of our visit was to find astronomical imagery in art work. Astronomy in art and architecture has always seemed to me to be a great topic for The Catholic Astronomer. It is something that might appeal to a very broad variety of people (click here for posts on the “Astronomy in Art & Architecture” theme). Of course it is something that might especially appeal to people interested in astronomy, and to Catholics (given the emphasis on art and architecture in the Catholic Church).
But the Cincinnati Art Museum turned out to be largely devoid of astronomical imagery. There were some representations of the moon on “tall-case clocks” (“grandfather clocks”)—these were cool, as you will see below. There were also some very generic representations of the sun or moon as part of a few paintings—but even these were pretty rare.
The lack of astronomical imagery in the Cincinnati Art Museum came to mind again when we were in San Antonio. We stopped by the Market Square there (“the largest Mexican Market in the U.S.”, according to various sources). In the market, astronomical imagery was everywhere—representations of the sun, moon, and stars abounded. As you will see below, these were not “realistic” representations; not depictions of astronomical objects as they truly appear to the eye. However, more astronomical imagery could be found on one wall or shelf in the San Antonio market than in the entire Cincinnati Art Museum.
So, let us first look at astronomical imagery in
The pictures above might not necessarily include every bit of astronomical imagery that can be found in the Cincinnati Art Museum, but they include a lot of it. Now, by way of comparison, let us first look at astronomical imagery in
THE MARKET SQUARE:
These pictures definitely do not include every bit of astronomical imagery that can be found in the San Antonio Market Square—not even close. When it came to astronomical imagery, the Market Square beat the Art Museum easily.