Painting - Velocities and Right Triangles (Galileo)

This is the third painting by Crockett Johnson to represent the motion of bodies released from rest from a common point and moving along different inclined planes. In the Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences (1638), Galileo argued that the points reached by the balls at a given time would lie on a circle. Two such circles and three inclined planes, as well as a vertical line of direct fall, are indicated in the painting. One circle has half the diameter of the other. Crockett Johnson also joins the base of points on the inclined planes to the base of the diameters of the circles, forming two sets of right triangles.
This oil painting on masonite is #96 in the series. It has a black background and a wooden and metal frame. It is signed on the back: VELOCITIES AND RIGHT TRIANGLES (GALILEO) (/) Crockett Johnson 1972. Compare to paintings #42 (1979.1093.30) and #71 (1979.1093.46), as well as the figure from Valens, The Attractive Universe: Gravity and the Shape of Space (1969), p. 135.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Galilei, Galileo
Johnson, Crockett
Physical Description
masonite (substrate material)
wood (frame material)
metal (frame material)
overall: 124.5 cm x 63 cm x 3.8 cm; 49 in x 24 13/16 in x 1 1/2 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Mathematics
Crockett Johnson
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Crockett Johnson
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Ruth Krauss in memory of Crockett Johnson
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.