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Mattheus Greuter’s sunspot etchings for Galileo Galilei’s Macchie Solari (1613).

This paper investigates the series of etchings that German-born Catholic convert artist Mattheus Greuter produced in Rome to illustrate Galileo Galilei’s 1613 astronomical publication on sunspots. Greuter used an experimental copperplate etching technique that subsumed Galileo’s observation-based conclusions about the sunspots’ ontological essence, and adapted an exceptionally subtle linear manner from devotional prints, their fine style inflecting Lucretian mechanics and metaphors of vision, and complicating early modern perceptions regarding northern lines as inherently devout and accurate. Greuter’s sunspots capture the poignancy of the all-too-brief historical moment in which Galileo, the German diaspora artist, Jesuit scientists, and Roman inquisitors might coexist.