Andreas Cellarius. Theoriatrium Superiorum Planetarum. Amsterdam, 1708

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Andreas Cellarius (1596-1665)
Theoriatrium Superiorum Planetarum
From Atlas Coelestis seu Harmonia Macrocosmica
Published Amsterdam, 1708
Engraving with original hand color
Paper size: 20 x 23 3/4" 

Fine example of Cellarius's chart illustrating the Theory of Epicycles, which supported Claudius Ptolemy's earth-centered model of the universe.

In this chart, Cellarius demonstrates the Ptolemaic theory of epicycles. The epicycles theory addressed a problem that arose from the assumption that if the Earth was the center of the universe, then the circuit of the planets should be of a steady one-directional, circular progress. Observation showed, however, that the orbital progress of the planets was in fact irregular, and from these observations arose the ancient theory of epicycles illustrated here.

In addition to their lavish aesthetic appeal, the celestial charts of Andreas Cellarius comprise the most sweeping, ambitious project in the history of celestial cartography, one which also illustrates the historical tensions of the time. Cellarius’ maps present the evolution of the field of astronomy from ancient times until his own. In his distinctive visual language, Cellarius portrayed the often-conflicting theories that prevailed. In addition to the relatively obscure notions of Tycho Brahe and Schiller, Cellarius’s charts track the theories of Ptolemy, dating from the 2nd century AD, and Copernicus’s 16th-century challenge to the venerable ancient astronomer.

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