Catalog Archive
Auction 187, Lot 51

Gorgeous Chart Showing Ptolemy's Earth-Centric Model of the Solar System

"Planisphaerium Ptolemaicum, sive Machina Orbium Mundi Ex Hypotheis Ptolemaica in Plano Disposita", Cellarius, Andreas

Subject: Solar System

Period: 1661 (circa)

Publication: Atlas Coelestis seu Harmonia Macrocosmica

Color: Hand Color

20.9 x 17.5 inches
53.1 x 44.5 cm
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The Dutch-German mathematician and cosmographer Andreas Cellarius is best known for his spectacular celestial atlas, the Harmonia Macrocosmica. His atlas contained a description of ancient and contemporary astronomy including the theories of Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Tycho Brahe. The atlas was illustrated with twenty-nine engraved plates that are among the most beautiful celestial charts ever made. The charts include illustrations of the heavens and diagrams of the orbits of the Sun, Moon, and planets according to the different cosmological theories. They were richly adorned with elaborate cartouches and baroque elements such as putti in clouds, shells, garlands, as well as portraits of famous astronomers and astronomical instruments. The Harmonia Macrocosmica was published in 1660, and reissued in 1661 by the Amsterdam publisher Johannes Jansson as a supplement to his Atlas Novus. The plates were reissued again in 1708 by the Amsterdam publishers Gerard Valk and Petrus Schenk.

This highly sought-after chart is the first in Cellarius' Harmonia Macrocosmica and illustrates Claudius Ptolemy's model of the solar system with the earth at center. Ptolemy's model of the universe was the prevailing theory of the universe until the mid-16th century, when Copernicus proposed a solar system centered on the sun. This diagram centers on a small spherical map on a north-polar projection, with California illustrated as an island. Surrounding the Earth are concentric circles representing the orbits of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, illustrated as gods and goddesses driving chariots. The outer circle represents the stars, depicted by the constellations of the zodiac. The title cartouche is split into two ornate Baroque banners, with figures surrounded by globes and instruments below in the lower corners. The older figures are possibly Aristotle (left) and Ptolemy (right). This example is the second state, with the plate number "1" at bottom right.

References: Burden #345; Kanas, p. 191-94; Van der Krogt (Vol. I) #HM01:1.

Condition: B

A sharp impression backed with tissue to repair several edge tears that enter 1" or less into the engraved image and some marginal chipping along the top sheet edge. There are several extraneous creases and small abrasions along the centerfold and staining in the blank margins.

Estimate: $2,750 - $3,500

Sold for: $3,000

Closed on 4/27/2022