JF Ptak Science Books Post 1930
In the 16th and 17th centuries it was not terribly uncommon to decorate a title page of a scientific/philosophical work with the portraits of standard-bearers and significant people in the field. This is particularly true in the Baroque era, when so much more of the title page seems to be decorated. I should have kept closer memory of examples of these works, but for right now two will suffice–they are rather good. The first is the work of Pergaeus Apllonius (ca. 260-200 bce) in the Opera, per doctissimum philosopphm Iohannem Memum, printed in Venice in 1537, which contains the first appearance in print of Apollonius' Conics.
Around the title of the book we find the half-length portraits of Pliny, Cicero, Quintiliius, Plutarch, Lucan, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Plato, Aristides, Euripedes, Aristophanes, Pindar, Theocritus, Vergil, Horace, Livy, Sallustius/Sallust and Apollonius–a big cast with differing shadows.
A great example of a title page dedicated to astronomers is that for Jan Luyts' (1655-1721, an instructor in maths and physics at Utrecht), text Astronomica Institutio, in qua Doctrina Sphaericaa atque Theorica… printed in Utrecht in 1692. It features a "action shot" of five major figures in astronomy: (from left to right) Galileo (who is rarely seen actually holding a telescope and here is brandishing one like a club, holding the instrument very weirdly), a ham-handed Hevelius looking slyly over Galileo's shoulder (though it sort of looks like Kepler in a way, I'm pretty sure that Galileo is Galileo), with Brahe, Copernicus and Ptolemy each holding elegant demonstration devices for their own particular model of the solar system. I'm not sure who the central figure is–perhaps just a generic philosophe.
Here's the frontispiece to Galileo's which features Copernicus at right and the seated figure as Aristotle, which bears some fleeting resemblance to the figure above.
[Image source University of Sydney]
In this 1641 edition there are some slight alterations:
[Image source and full text here.]
Galileo's Dialogo (1632) was the open invitation to trouble that Galileo no doubt expected and then famously received, the work being a defense of the Copernican system which at the time of regressive church wisdom posed a direct threat to Catholic belief systems. In the frontis to this work we again see some old friends, finding Aristotle, Copernicus and Ptolemy beautifully (and with realistic old-man slumpiness) portrayed by Stefan della Bella.
(The full title of the Dialogo: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems ( Dialogo
sopra i due massimi sistemi del
mondo), in which the Copernican and Ptolemaic systems are described and
compared. Galileo almost worked within the Vatican’s matrix necessitating a balanced
presentation between the different systems, and evidently did so enough for the book to become a best seller, but
its ride on the list of the Vatican’s
banned (“Prohibited”) books lasted until 1835.
Details of the portraits in "continued reading" section below.