James Thornhill's "The Glorification of William and Mary": A Newtonian Spatial Allegory
The purpose of this essay is firstly to offer a commentary on the special historical significance of this particular illusionistic ceiling painting, which grandly honors Isaac Newton along with his predecessors in spatial physics, namely Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and (probably) Galileo, as well as the contemporary Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed (1646-1719). Their iconographical significance as the giants of astronomy, which was the basis of the navigational science that was vital to the success of the Royal Navy, will be examined in detail. This discussion will set the stage for an extended analysis of the possible effects of Newtonianism and related scientific developments on Thornhill.
Keywords: James Thornhill, The Glorification of William and Mary, Lower Painted Hall, Greenwich Naval Hospital, Sir Isaac Newton, Baroque ceiling paintings
Dr. Ann Stewart Balakier
Ph. D., Professor of Art History, Art Department, University of South Dakota
Dr. James Balakier
Associate Professor, English Department, University of South Dakota