Flammarions wood engraving
Flammarion's wood engraving , also called Wanderer am Weltrand or in French au pèlerin (“on pilgrimage”), is the work of an unknown artist. The wood engraving first appeared in 1888 as an illustration in the sub-chapter La forme du ciel ("The shape of the sky") of the popular science volume L'atmosphère. Météorologie populaire ("The atmosphere. Popular meteorology ") by the French author, astronomer and president of the Société astronomique de France Camille Flammarion, which he founded in 1887 .
The illustration shows a person who is on the horizon as the edge of his world with his shoulders in the celestial sphere and sees what is behind. In the 20th century, the image was often mistaken for an authentic representation of a medieval worldview and was often reproduced.
Illustration and context
The wood engraving was first used in 1888 in the third edition of Camille Flammarion's L'atmosphère. Météorologie populaire and is one of over three hundred illustrations in this volume, which brings together six books. In the subchapter La forme du ciel of the first chapter Le jour (“The day”) of the second book La lumière et les phénomènes optiques de l'air (“The light and the optical phenomena of the air”) of the 800-page volume is the Wood engraving used on page 163 for illustration.
The illustration, in the style of strict historicism or the 16th century, shows a hilly and mountainous landscape with several cities on a lake, spanned by a hemispherical sky with a shining sun, sickle-shaped moon and numerous stars, as well as in the foreground on the left in front of a tree on a hill a kneeling observer, almost in a quadruped position, who penetrates the sphere to the left and sticks his shoulders in it, roughly at the point where the sphere of the sky is at the edge of the surface of the earth. From an apparently flat earth disk , this person, wearing a headgear, long coat and short shoulder cape and wearing sandal-like shoes on his bare feet, looks at several circular, separated and successive strips or layers that are flaming and cloud-shaped and in or on them two discs and a pair of interlocking wheels appear to be lying. This wanderer no longer holds the stick on his left hand, with his outstretched right hand he makes a groping or greeting gesture; the facial expression of the observer shown in the profile perdu remains hidden from the viewer in this perspective. In the very foreground, roughly at the level of the previous position of the kneeling person, there is a point at the lower edge of the picture where the representation has objective ambiguities.
The picture is framed by a striking frame into which various ornaments and figures are embedded, as well as a column with an attachment on each side, similar to a pinnacle of Gothic cathedrals with tabernacle and finial; In the lower part of the frame you can see an open scroll that looks like a book, but it has no legible characters. The illustration lacks a legend in the frame, like the work of art as such a signature.
In Flammarion's book, this illustration is placed in the chapter La forme du ciel in the middle of the page between the scrolling text and, via the position of its insertion and the specified subtitle, corresponds to a passage in the text on the page on the left, which is based on a description of ancient and medieval ideas of the Heaven follows.
The caption to the picture is in the original:
"Un missionnaire du moyen âge raconte qu'il avait trouvé le point où le ciel et la Terre se touchent ..."
"A missionary from the Middle Ages says that he has found the point where heaven and earth meet ..."
The picture illustrates a passage of text on the opposite page:
«… Un naïf missionnaire du moyen âge raconte même que, dans un de ses voyages à la recherche du Paradis terrestre, il atteignit l'horizon où le ciel et la Terre se touchent, et qu'il trouva un certain point où ils n ' étaient pas soudés, où il passa en pliant les épaules sous le couvercle des cieux. ... »
"... A naive missionary of the Middle Ages even relates that on one of his journeys in search of the earthly paradise he reached the horizon, where heaven and earth meet, and that he found a certain point where they were not welded together, where he could get through by bending his shoulders under the vault of heaven. ... "
In this passage of the text, Flammarion introduces the reader to a story with just a single sentence, separated between ellipses, in which a person referred to here as "missionary" reports something unbelievable that he allegedly experienced or achieved. Flammarion already told the same story - still without the illustration - in the 1872 edition of L'atmosphère as well as very similarly in some of his other works, such as Les mondes imaginaires et les mondes réels in 1865 , in the Histoire du ciel printed in 1872 and 1884 in Les terres du Ciel . In these stories, which always consist of only one sentence, the person is an “ anachoret ” in 1865 and 1872 , also in 1872 “un interesting missionnaire”, in 1884 there were “some monks”, in 1888 now “un naïf missionnaire”.
As the source for the story, Flammarion refers to a passage in the Lettres by the French skeptic François de La Mothe le Vayer . In the Remarques Geographiques ("Geographical Notes", Letter 89; 1662), he introduces his anger at the passing on and written reproduction of alleged experiences or obvious tales of lies by travel narrators or historiographers who appear as geographers. He comes to speak of the fantastic early modern journeys of Fernão Mendes Pinto and Vincent Le Blanc . Mendes Pinto supported in 1554 as a lay brother of the Jesuit order whose missionary work in Japan before to there under the guise of a religious mission won a critical ratio practiced colonial exploitation and left the order; the memoirs and travelogues published posthumously in 1614 as Peregrinação ( Portuguese , 'pilgrimage'), revised by the Societas Jesu , gave Mendes Pinto the reputation of being a boor. The Frenchman Le Blanc from Marseille, whose travelogue was published posthumously in 1648, claimed to have traveled all of South Asia, Africa and America, which was only partially true. Le Blanc's reports remind La Mothe Le Vayer of an allegation, reproduced by Strabo , of the Pytheas from Massalia of the same origin, to have found the binding agent of the universe north of Thule, and of his “insolence to talk about it like something he had seen ". “This good anchorite,” he continues, although it is not known who he means by this, and continues with a story that has medieval pre-Magellanic features. La Mothe Le Vayer also sums it up in just one sentence:
"Ce bon Anachorete qui se vantoit d'avoir esté jusques au bout de Monde, disoit de mesme qu'il s'estoit veu contraint d'y ployer fort les épaules, à cause de l'union du Ciel & de la Terre dans cette extremity. Mais comme l'on trouve beaucoup de contes fabuleaux dans cette sorte de lecture, […] »
“This good anchorite, who boasted that he had come to the edge of the world, even said that he had been forced to bend his shoulders there because of the union of heaven and earth at this extreme end. But how one finds many fabulous stories in this kind of reading, [...] "
In close reference to this passage Flammarion tells his story and emphasizes the reference to La Mothe Le Vayer in earlier works, for example in 1865 in Les mondes imaginaires et les mondes réels ("The imaginary worlds and the real worlds"):
«Pythéas en parlait comme d'une chose qu'il avait vue. […] Ce fait nous rapelle le récit que Le Vayer rapporte dans ses Lettres. Il parait qu'un anachorète, probablement un neveu des Pères des déserts d'Orient, se vantait d'avoir été jusqu'au bout de monde et de s'être vu contraint d'y plier les épaules , à cause de la réunion du ciel et de la Terre in cette extrémité. »
“Pytheas talked about it like something he had seen. […] This fact reminds us of the story that Le Vayer reports in his Lettres. It seems that an anchorite, probably a nephew of the desert fathers of the Orient, boasted that he had come to the edge of the world and had been forced to bow his shoulders there because of the reunification of heaven and earth at this one extreme end. "
... and so also in 1872 in Histoire du ciel ("History of Heaven"):
"J'ai dans ma bibliothèque, interrompit le député, un ouvrage assez curieux: Les Lettres de Levayer . Je me souviens d'y avoir lu qu'un bon anachorête se vantait d'avoir été jusqu'au bout de monde , et de s'être vu contraint d'y plier les épaules, à cause de l'union du ciel et de La Terre in the cette of extremity. »
“I have a curious work in my library,” interrupted the MP: Les Lettres de Levayer . I remember reading there that a good anchor boasted that he had come to the edge of the world and was forced to bow his shoulders there because of the union of heaven and earth at this extreme end. "
In the volume L'atmosphère, also published in 1872 . In contrast, as in L'atmosphère, there is no description of the grands phenomena de la nature . Météorologie populaire a reference to Le Vayer in the modified text passage - to which the subtitle of the wood engraving inserted opposite is clearly linked - and its connection with its lettres is therefore - as in the new edition published in 1888, the 300th year of Le Vayer's birth - no longer immediately apparent. So it is left to the reader to make a reference to the Remarques Geographiques , where the skepticism about unchecked transmission and reproduction is discussed.
In addition, Flammarion was probably also interested in caricaturing an idea of the vault of heaven , according to which one could get to the edge of the atmosphere by climbing mountains. He contrasts this with his own balloon rides, higher up than Mount Olympus , without having hit the sky. The sheet of the introductory chapter to L'atmosphère shows a picture of a balloon flight above the clouds above this title. The motto of the text is “in ea vivimus, movemur et sumus” ( Latin , “In this we live, are moved and are”).
The chapter in which Flammarion's wood engraving appears for the first time in 1888 deals on the following pages with the shape of the sky under various aspects, with the author showing, among other things, the horizon line, vanishing lines and vanishing points of perspective rendering depending on the observation height on the image of a row of trees and the apparent curvature of the Himmels explained by a scheme similar to the wood engraving. In the last paragraph of the chapter, Flammarion asks the reader to look again at the frontispiece , a lithograph after a painting by the landscape painter Jean Achard , which in perspective resembles the wood engraving, and to enjoy the fine gradation of the atmospheric color nuances up to the horizon. Flammarion closes the chapter with the sentence: "It is still better to inhabit the earth than the moon."
The title page of the entire volume is preceded by a colored engraving, Les perspectives aériennes , which shows a hilly landscape under an almost cloudless sky, seen from an elevated position in the bend of a sloping unpaved ravine and at first glance deserted.
Symbolism and interpretation
According to the medieval worldview, behind the celestial spheres, outside the fixed star sky , there was still a crystal sky and above it the fire sky (the empyreum ). Flammarion's wood engraving shows things here, the interpretation and naming of which cannot be explained by the caption and the accompanying story. In the fine arts there is no directly comparable representation of the sky. The engraving shows unknown spheres, two round stars - in 1958 , CG Jung saw "a prototype of Ufovision ..., the projected" rotunda "of the inner or four-dimensional world" - as well as two wheels running in themselves, the CG Jung as the Merkaba Ezekiels pointed. Modern viewers do not expect an image of God in heaven and see here “the universe”, “devices”, a “heavenly mechanism” and the like or the “ immobile mover ” or “ primum movens ”, which goes back to Aristotle as an idea .
The illustration was used for the first time in 1903 in a German-language work and referred to here as the "Medieval ... Representation of the World System". It was subsequently used for illustration in a variety of contexts and was often referred to as an authentic late medieval or early modern woodcut. It was almost always shown without Flammarion's decorative frame, and in some cases the upper part was also cropped around the wheels, moon and stars. Colored versions have also been shown by artists since 1979.
In the course of the scientific examination of the engraving, the question of its authorship, authenticity and dating was raised. In 1973 Weber took the position that the engraving should be assigned to the Neo-Renaissance , for which in particular the interlocking with Flammarion's text, the mixing of stylistic elements from different epochs ( Flamboyant frame , 15th century, image content Renaissance , 16th century) and which was not made until the 19th century. The technique of wood engraving developed in the 19th century. This suggests that Flammarion commissioned the wood engraving himself, fittingly as a representation for this very passage in the 1888 edition. However, the assumption that the engraving was dated to the Renaissance also found advocates (Senger 1998, 2002).
The widespread notion of a flat earth in the context of the medieval worldview is not historically well-founded, rather it emerged from the need of the modern age to distinguish itself from the previous period. Since around the end of the 15th century, a middle age " aetas media " was set between antiquity " aetas antiqua " and modern times " aetas moderna " and seen in an increasingly gloomy light as " aetas obscura ", in the 19th century up to the view In the " dark Middle Ages ", under the devastation of the migration of peoples and the dogmatic censorship of the church, the formation of antiquity had meanwhile been so far lost that the ancient knowledge about the spherical shape of the earth had given way to the image of a flat earth as a disc. In contrast, the rational review of world views - including the refutation of outdated models - was seen as an enlightenment or understood as a modern project .
- Bruno Weber : Ubi caelum terrae se coniungit. An ancient elevation of the world structure. In: Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 1973, pp. 381–408. Excerpts online (French)
- Carl Gustav Jung : A modern myth: of things that are seen in the sky , Zurich and Stuttgart 1958.
- Hans Gerhard Senger : “Wanderer at the edge of the world” - a space explorer around 1530? Considerations for a peregrinatio inventiva . In: Jan A. Aertsen, Andreas Speer (Ed.): Space and conceptions of space in the Middle Ages . De Gruyter, Berlin et al. 1998, ISBN 3-11-015716-0 , pp. 793-827.
- Hans Gerhard Senger: “Wanderer at the edge of the world” - a space explorer around 1530? Considerations for a peregrinatio inventiva . In: Ludus Sapientiae . Studies and texts on the intellectual history of the Middle Ages, Volume 78. Brill, Leiden u. a. 2002, ISBN 90-04-12081-5 , pp. 311-350. Excerpts online
- Hans Gerhard Senger: "Wanderer at the edge of the world" - an old or ancient world view? In: Christoph Markschies, Ingeborg Reichle, Jochen Brüning, Peter Deuflhard (eds.): Atlas of world views . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2011, pp. 343–352.
- Georg Peez : A supposedly medieval woodcut - to depict pedagogical and art-pedagogical borderline and experience phenomena. ( Memento of September 11, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Last changed on April 20, 2002 - accessed October 13, 2019
- Kerry Magruder: Is this a medieval flat-earth woodcut? Or not! Last change: July 28, 2003; Accessed July 26, 2011 . Private web presence on the history of the reception of wood engraving; numerous subpages
- Oncle Dom : Une légende savante: Camille Flammarion faussaire Last update: March 25, 2010; Accessed January 12, 2012 . Private web presence on the history of the reception of wood engraving; numerous subpages (French)
- Camille Flammarion: L'atmosphère. Météorologie popular . Paris 1888, p. 163.
- Bruno Weber: Ubi caelum terrae se coniungit. An ancient elevation of the world structure. In: Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 1973, pp. 383–384, lists various dating suggestions on an art-historical basis, ranging from the 15th to the 17th century.
- The wand of the wanderer forms an angle of about 23 ° with the lower picture frame; the obliqueness or obliqueness of the ecliptic ( ε ) has a similar angular value.
- So Bruno Weber: Ubi caelum terrae se coniungit.… In Gutenberg yearbook 1973, p. 381f. (Only with a little imagination can you see a face looking to the left in the side profile, in the middle above the creased scroll with illegible legend, on which a fool's cap may have been placed.).
- So Bruno Weber: Ubi caelum terrae se coniungit.… In Gutenberg yearbook 1973, p. 381f.
- Camille Flammarion: L'atmosphère. Météorologie popular . Paris 1888, p. 162, also received in Senger 2002, p. 330.
- Camille Flammarion: L'atmosphère. Description des grands phenomènes de la nature , Paris 1872, p. 138 .
- Camille Flammarion: Les mondes imaginaires et les mondes réels , Paris 1865, p. 328 .
- Camille Flammarion: Histoire du ciel , Paris 1872, p. 299 .
- Camille Flammarion: Les terres du ciel , Paris 1884, p. 395 .
- The attribute «naïf» appears only in this text passage, but not in the caption, and at no other point in the eight hundred-page volume. In the edition of 1872 it was still called "interesting" .
- François de La Mothe le Vayer: Oeuvres de François de La Mothe Le Vayer , Vol. 2/3, 3rd edition, Paris 1662, p. 777 .
- So in Portuguese as a play on words “Fernão, Mentes? Minto! ”-“ Fernão, are you lying? I'm lying! ”- paraphrased (Gil Vicente: Os autos das barcas , 1995, p.116 ), as if alluding to the Cretan paradox .
- François de La Mothe le Vayer: Remarques Geographiques , ibid .
- Camille Flammarion: Les mondes imaginaires et les mondes réels , Paris 1865, p. 328 .
- Camille Flammarion: Histoire du ciel , Paris 1872, p. 299 .
- likewise in the chapter as in the entire volume; see Camille Flammarion: L'atmosphère. Météorologie populaire , Paris 1888, 829 pages .
- the same year Sofja Kowalewskaja received, not unexpectedly, the prestigious Prix Bordin of the Académie des sciences , announced in 1888 for outstanding contributions to the theory of the movement of a rigid body around a fixed point , see also Kowalewskaja-Kreisel ; Kowalewskaja was the world's first female professor of mathematics, initially only for a limited period of five years (until 1889) in Stockholm. Henri Poincaré received a prize awarded by King Oskar II of Sweden for his - incorrect - contribution to the question of the n-body problem, submitted in 1888 .
- 1973 Weber assumed that this passage was related to the Macarius Romanus legend, which Flammarion cites in Les mondes imaginaires et les mondes réels , Paris 1865, p. 246 ; but this legend and the picture do not fit together, as Senger sums up 2002 in Ludus Sapientiae , p.323 . The reference to Le Vayer is not taken into account in either.
- Senger 2002, p. 330.
- Camille Flammarion: L'atmosphère. Météorologie popular Chapitre Préliminaire . Paris 1888, p. 1.
- Camille Flammarion: L'atmosphère. Météorologie populaire , 170 .
- Camille Flammarion: L'atmosphère. Météorologie populaire , p.172 .
- Camille Flammarion: L'atmosphère. Météorologie populaire , frontispiece .
- Camille Flammarion: L'atmosphère. Météorologie populaire , second book, first chapter La Jour , p.174 .
- Camille Flammarion: Les perspectives aériennes , in L'atmosphère. Météorologie popular NP . Paris 1888, unpaginated.
- Camille Flammarion: L'atmosphère. Météorologie populaire , Paris 1888, p. 162.
- Jung 1958, p. 96, also received in Senger 2002, p. 331, note 86.
- Ezekiel 1.16 EU .
- Jung 1958, p. 96, also received in Senger 2002, p. 331, note 90.
- Senger 2002, p. 331, note 90 gives examples.
- Rudolf Simek, Earth and Cosmos in the Middle Ages , Augsburg 2000.
- So by WJ Foerster in The Exploration of the Universe , where the picture appears without its frame and with incorrect source information ("after Flammarion's astronomy "); after Senger 2002, p.314 f .
- Private collection for image use .
- Private collection with 21 differently colored versions .