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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).
Currently not on view
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Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 7 1/4 in x 5 1/2 in; 18.415 cm x 13.97 cm
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Prints from the Physical Sciences Collection
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National Museum of American History
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