Skip to main content
An Astronomer
Ferdinand Bol
/

The painting divides neatly down the middle. On the left side we have books and globes, then considered key repositories of knowledge. And on the right is the world of thought and reflection represented by the sitter, who adopts the classic thinker’s pose: hand on chin, eyes apparently unfocused, looking slightly upwards into the middle distance.

The original title of the painting isn’t recorded, but it is known as An Astronomer because the nearer of the two globes shows a celestial map of the stars and their constellations. Some art historians have suggested that it may be a self portrait, but the sitter does not resemble other images believed to be of Bol. More likely, it is an idealised depiction of an astronomer as a scientist and thinker – there are plenty of other examples in Dutch art around this time.

Key facts
Artist Ferdinand Bol
Artist dates 1616 - 1680
Full title An Astronomer
Date made 1652
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 127 x 135 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by Miss E.A. Bennett, 1862
Inventory number NG679
Location in Gallery Not on display
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo