The planetary aspects of the zodiac
By CELLARIUS, Andreas , 1660

Typus Aspectuum Oppositionum Et Coniunctionum Etz In Planetis

  • Author: CELLARIUS, Andreas
  • Publication place: Amsterdam
  • Publication date: 1661.
  • Physical description: Double-page engraved chart, with fine hand-colour in full.
  • Dimensions: 510 by 600mm. (20 by 23.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 18653


A striking celestial chart, with map of the northern hemisphere at the center, with the signs of the zodiac in a surrounding band, winged cherubim in the ether beyond.

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.

The north polar projection shows two rivers in the west of North America flowing south-westwards. “The Rio del Norte of the period is unnamed, and to its north is the R. del nova. California is an Island, and farther north we find a large land mass entitled N.o Albion, separated from the mainland by Anian [though on this later state of the map Anian has been removed]. The map appears to be pro-English, identifying New England and Bermuda, but omitting any reference to New France or even New Netherlands. Florida is also identified” (Burden).

Cellarius’ project was not devoid of political motivation. Up to his time of artistic activity, the Netherlands had been the unquestioned center of scientific discovery, and Dutch mapmakers had reigned supreme above all others. In the early 18th century, Louis XV of France sought to bring his country to the forefront of science, and by association, to imply political dominance. His efforts led to great competition between France and the Netherlands, and Cellarius’ sweeping project was an attempt to thwart French attempts completely. In some cases, Cellarius incorporated French elements into his maps, like acanthus leaves which can be seen often on French furniture of the period. In this way, he attempted to use French visual elements more skillfully than they themselves could. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Dutch cartographers reigned supreme in their field.

Cellarius’ work remains a landmark of the Golden Age of Exploration, combining great artistic beauty with scientific documentation. The vibrant hues, spanning the color spectrum, give amazing animation to the images, and the skies appear to come alive with bright figures.

Andreas Cellarius (c1596-1665) was born in Neuhausen, a small town near Worms in Germany. From 1625 to 1637 he worked as a schoolmaster in Amsterdam and later The Hague, and in 1637 moved to Hoorn, where Cellarius was appointed to be the rector of the Latin School.