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Andreas Cellarius: Theoria Veneris et Mercurii

Map: CELEST1334
Cartographer: Andreas Cellarius
Title: Theoria Veneris et Mercurii
Date: 1661
Published: Amsterdam
Width: 21 inches / 54 cm
Height: 18 inches / 46 cm
Map ref: CELEST1334
Splendid example of Cellarius's celestial diagram illustrating the orbits of Mercury and Venus around the Sun according to the Capellan model, one of the leading celestial theories of the day. This theory was originally proposed by the 4th century Roman astronomer Martianus Capella, but was brought back to prominence in the 16th and 17th centuries by supporters such as Francis Bacon. The theory hypothesized that the Earth was indeed the centre of the universe and was orbited by the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Mercury and Venus, however, were thought to orbit the Sun. This was one of three semi-geocentric models popular in the 17th century, alongside those of Tycho Brahe and Giovanni Riccioli.

The larger, orange ring in the centre of the diagram represents's the Sun's orbit around the Earth which is naturally located at the centre of the page. The smaller, black rings represent the orbits of Venus and Mercury. The diagram attempts to explain why sometimes Venus is closer to Earth while at other times Mercury is closer. The panels of text either side provide distance calculations from the Earth at various points along the orbits of the Sun and the two planets. In typical Cellarius fashion, the margins are filled with sumptuous purple clouds and winged putti. There are also two smaller diagrams which further explain the motion of Mercury and Venus independently.

Andreas Cellarius's celestial charts are some of the most decorative ever published and are highly sought-after for their combination of Dutch Golden age beauty and their scientific content. These maps were published at a time when the classical cosmologies of the ancient Greeks were at last being challenged by the new, emerging theories of contemporary scholars, such as Tycho Brahe and Nicolaus Copernicus. To find out more about Andreas Cellarius's maps, read our extended blog post - "Finding our place in the Universe" - on The Map House blog.

Rich original hand colour. [CELEST1334]