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The Most Important Cellarius Celestial Chart
And One of the Most Beautiful
Copernican Solar System.
CELLARIUS, A. [Amsterdam, 1660]
17 x 20 ½ inches
Richly colored, heightened with gold; left margin reinforced, few marginal mends & bit of staining, else very good.
One of the most sought after of Cellarius’s works in a splendidly colored example. This magnificent rendering of the Copernican solar system is arguably the most powerful and unambiguous visual statement of a heliocentric solar system produced to date. The engraving’s striking design showing the rays of the centrally positioned sun emanating to the edges of the solar system makes the point with dramatic force. Particular emphasis is given to Jupiter and its fours moons, which played a crucial role in Galileo’s corroboration of the heliocentric system. Seated a lower right with instruments and books is the Polish astronomer, Copernicus, while the figure at the left has been tentatively identified as the Greek scholar, Aristarchus of Samos (f. 250 BC), who is believed to have been the first to propose a heliocentric solar system.
Although Copernicus proposed his momentous theory well over a century before the publication of this engraving, it was still considered innovative and heretical when this work appeared. Fewer than 30 years before this work was published, Galileo was placed under house arrest by the Inquisition for his support of Copernicus’s ideas.
Van Gent, R. H. Andreas Cellarius, p. 47; Stott, pp. 46-7.