Christopher Clavius (1538-1612) was a German Jesuit mathematician and astronomer who spent most of his adult life in Rome, opposing the Copernican model of the solar system and promoting the Gregorian reform of the calendar.
This portrait shows Clavius with a pair of dividers in his right hand, an armillary sphere on the table beside him, and a horary quadrant and astrolabe on the wall behind. It appeared in Isaac Bullart, Académie des Sciences et des Arts, Contenant les Vies, & les Eloges Historiques des Hommes Illustres (Amsterdam, 1682), vol. 2, p. 117. It is copied from an image done in 1609 by Francisco Villamena, a leading engraver in Rome who specialized in portraits filled with realistic still-life details. The signature at bottom reads “E. de Boulonois fecit.”
Ref: Franca Trincieri Camez, “The Roman ‘Studio’ of Francisco Villamena,” The Burlington Magazine 136 (1994): 506-516.
James M. Lattis, Between Copernicus and Galileo: Christopher Clavius and the Collapse of the Ptolemaic Astronomy (Chicago, 1994).
Object Name
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 7 1/4 in x 5 1/2 in; 18.415 cm x 13.97 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Prints from the Physical Sciences Collection
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Prints from the Physical Sciences Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.