Catalog Archive
Auction 191, Lot 54

Cellarius' Striking Chart of the Ptolemaic Cosmography

"Scenographia Systematis Mundani Ptolemaici", Cellarius/Schenk & Valck

Subject: Solar System

Period: 1708 (published)

Publication: Atlas Coelestis seu Harmonia Macrocosmica

Color: Hand Color

19.8 x 16.8 inches
50.3 x 42.7 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 is the second chart in Cellarius' celestial atlas, depicting Ptolemy's theory on the orbits of the sun, moon and planets. Earth is prominently featured at the center of the universe, showing the eastern hemisphere with a partially delineated Nova Hollandia (Australia) and a massive southern continent. The sun, moon and remaining planets orbit around the earth, all surrounded by a large ring depicting the signs of the zodiac. Around the periphery of the chart, cherubs and wind heads fly above, while below astronomers and academics discuss theories around celestial and terrestrial globes.

References: Kanas, pp. 191-94.

Condition: B

A sharp impression with contemporary color in the sphere and later color in the decorative surround. There are a number of cracks within the earth that have been repaired on verso with old paper and masking tape. There is minor toning in the blank margins.

Estimate: $2,000 - $2,300


Closed on 2/8/2023