Painting - Polar Line of a Point and a Circle (Apollonius)

Description
In 1966, Crockett Johnson carefully read Nathan A. Court's book College Geometry, selecting diagrams that he thought would be suitable for paintings. In the chapter on harmonic division, he annotated several figures that relate to this painting. The work shows two orthoganol circles, that is to say two circles in which the square of the line of centers equals the sum of the squares of the radii. A right triangle formed by the line of centers and two radii that intersect is shown. The small right triangle in light purple in the painting is this triangle.
Crockett Johnson's painting combines a drawing of this triangle with a more complex figure used in a discussion of further properties of lines drawn in orthoganal circles. In particular, suppose that one draws a line segment from a point outside a circle that intersects it in two points, and selects a fourth point on the line that divides the segment harmonically. For a single exterior point, all these such points lie on a single line, perpendicular to the line of centers of the two circles, which is called the polar line.
The painting is #38 in the series. It has a background in two shades of cream, and a light tan wooden frame. It shows two circles that overlap slightly and have various sections. The circles are in shades of blue, purple and cream. The painting is signed: CJ66.
References: Nathan A. Court, College Geometry (1964 printing), p. 175–78. This volume was in Crockett Johnson's library.
T. L. Heath, ed., Apollonius of Perga: Treatise on Conic Sections (1961 reprint). This volume was not in Crockett Johnson's library.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
painting
date made
1966
referenced
Apollonius of Perga
painter
Johnson, Crockett
Physical Description
masonite (substrate material)
wood (frame material)
Measurements
overall: 61 cm x 83 cm x 3.8 cm; 24 in x 32 11/16 in x 1 1/2 in
ID Number
1979.1093.26
catalog number
1979.1093.26
accession number
1979.1093
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Art
Crockett Johnson
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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