The Life and Works of Andreas Cellarius

The Dutch-German mathematician and cosmographer Andreas Cellarius is well known to map historians and historians of astronomy as the author of the Harmonia Macrocosmica (first published in 1660), a folio-sized work that is commonly regarded to be one of the most spectacular cosmographical atlases that was published in the second half of the seventeenth century.

Until recently nearly nothing was known about the life and background of Andreas Cellarius, who, on the title page of the Harmonia Macrocosmica, identified himself as the rector (headmaster) of the Latin School at Hoorn (a town to the north-east of Amsterdam). He further stated that he came from the German Rhineland area known as the Pfaltz, but neither the town or the year of his birth were known, nor when and where he died. Recent research in the municipal archives of Amsterdam, Hoorn and The Hague has now made it possible to provide the following sketch of his life and career.

Early Life and Education

Andreas Cellarius was born around the year 1596 in Neuhausen, a small town near Worms. He was the son of Andreas Cellarius, who was a pastor in Neuhausen from 1596 to 1599 and later moved to Heidelberg – the name of his mother is not known. After his education at the Sapierzkolleg in Heidelberg, Andreas Cellarius enrolled as a student at the University of Heidelberg in 1614 but it is not known how long he studied there or which lectures he attended.

During the next decade, the whereabouts of Andreas Cellarius are unknown. It has been surmised, on the evidence of his later publications on Poland and on the art of fortification, that he may have travelled through Poland during this period and may even have pursued a military career there but archival evidence for this is lacking.

Click on the image for an enlargementEmigration to Holland

Exactly when Andreas Cellarius settled in Holland is not known but in 1625 he is mentioned in the marriage records of the city of Amsterdam as a 30-year old schoolmaster from ‘Niewhousen’. He married Catharina Eltmans in the same year and their first son, also named Andreas after his grandfather and great-grandfather, was born in the next year. Two years later, in 1628, their daughter Catharina was baptized in Amsterdam.

Although archival records are lacking, it appears that Andreas Cellarius worked as a schoolmaster at the Latin School on the Koestraat near the Oude Zijds.

Around 1630 Andreas Cellarius moved to The Hague where he was employed as a schoolmaster at the Latin School in the former St. Agnietenklooster on the Zuilingstraat. Two sons, Johannes and Joris, were baptized in The Hague in 1631 and 1635.

Rectorship at Hoorn

In 1637 Andreas Cellarius moved to Hoorn, where he was appointed as rector of the Latin School in the former Ceciliaklooster. All of Andreas Cellarius’s scholarly works were published during his rectorship in Hoorn.

Andreas Cellarius died in February/March of 1665 – the location of his grave is not known. His eldest son Andreas died in November of the same year and was buried in a rented grave near to the choir in the Grote Kerk of Hoorn.

Publications of Andreas Cellarius

Click on the image for an enlargement Click on the image for an enlargement Click on the image for an enlargement
Frontispiece of the Architectura
Militaris
(Amsterdam, 1645)
Frontispiece of the Regni Poloniae
(Amsterdam, 1659)
Title page of the Regni Poloniae
(Amsterdam, 1659)

His earliest known publication was on fortification, the mathematical science of designing impregnable city walls and defence systems, and was entitled Architectura Militaris, oder Gründtliche Underweisung der heuttiges tages so wohl in Niederlandt als andern örttern gebräuchlichen Fortification oder Vestungsbau. It was written in German and was published in 1645 by the Amsterdam publisher Jodocus Janssonius (an unchanged reprint appeared in 1656).

In 1652 the Amsterdam publisher Gillis Jansz Valckenier printed his description of Poland, entitled Regni Poloniae, Magnique ducatus Lituaniae: Omniumque regionum juri Polonico Subjectorum: Novissima descriptio, Urbium potissimarum icones elegantissimas & delinitionem hujus Regni Geographicam oculis sujiciens. It was reprinted in 1659 and a Dutch translation, entitled Het Koninckrijck Poolen en toebehoorende landen: Vervaatende een korte doch klaare beschrijvinghe aller Landtschappen en Steden, in dit Ryck gelegen, was published in 1660 by Gillis Jansz Valckenier & Hendrik Prins.

Andreas Cellarius also wrote a few laudatory poems on Henrick Bruno (1620/21-1664), the assistant rector of the Latin School in Hoorn and a former tutor of Constantijn and Christiaan Huygens, which were printed in Bruno’s Hooghe-Liedt (a Dutch versification of Solomon’s Song of Songs).

His best known work, the Harmonia Macrocosmica, was published in 1660 (a reprint was issued in 1661) by the Amsterdam publisher Johannes Janssonius (1588-1664) as a cosmographical supplement to his Atlas Novus. Andreas Cellarius had already started working on this atlas before 1647 and intended it to be a historical introduction for a two-volume treatise on cosmography but the second part was never published.

The plates of his Harmonia Macrocosmica were reprinted (usually without the historical introduction and commentary) in 1708 by the Amsterdam publishers Gerard Valk (1652-1726) and Petrus Schenk the Elder (1660-1711) after acquiring the copperplates of Janssonius in 1694.


Bibliography

  More information on Andreas Cellarius and his cosmographical atlas can be found in:
  • Krogt, Peter C.J. van der, Koeman’s Atlantes Neerlandici: New Edition - Vol. 1: The Folio Atlases Published by Gerard Mercator, Jodocus Hondius, Henricus Hondius, Johannes Janssonius and Their Successors (’t Goy-Houten: HES, 1997), pp. 270, 278 & 513-518.
  • Gent, Robert H. van, “De hemelatlas van Andreas Cellarius: Het meesterwerk van een vergeten Hollandse kosmograaf”, Caert-Thresoor: Tijdschrift voor de Geschiedenis van de Kartografie, 19 (2000), 9-25 [pdf copy – in Dutch].
  • Hamel, Jürgen, Andreas Cellarius: Die Harmonie der grossen Welt – Harmonia Macrocosmica (Berlin: Coron bei Kindler Verlag, 2006).
  • Gent, Robert H. van, Andreas Cellarius. Harmonia Macrocosmica of 1660: The Finest Atlas of the Heavens (Köln: TASCHEN, 2006).

Some online digital scans of the Harmonia Macrocosmica:

In 2008 the minor planet 12618 Cellarius was named after Andreas Cellarius.


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