This painting depicts Atlas, the titan condemned by Zeus to carry the celestial vault on his shoulders for eternity. Guercino painted this canvas in 1646 for Don Lorenzo dei Medici, as evidenced by the payment made in the artist’s Book of Accounts. Together with the figure of Atlas, another painting depicting Endymion asleep with the telescope on his knees was commissioned from the artist by the Medici cardinal himself. The figures of Atlas and Endymion, symbolizing astronomy and astrology, are a posthumous homage to Galileo Galilei, illustrious protege of the Grand Duke Cosimo II de ‘Medici, brother of the client Don Lorenzo. Stefano Bardini Museum, Florence.

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