Exhibitions/ Art Object

Celestial globe with clockwork

Gerhard Emmoser (German, active 1556–84)
Austrian, Vienna
Partially gilded silver, gilded brass (case); brass, steel (movement)
Overall: 10 3/4 × 8 × 7 1/2 in. (27.3 × 20.3 × 19.1 cm); Diameter of globe: 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)
Metalwork-Silver In Combination
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
Not on view
This globe once rotated, charting the constellations. A unique object uniting extraordinarily complex mechanical technology with great aesthetic beauty, it belonged to the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, who displayed it in his curiosity cabinet. It was valued both for its function as a scientific apparatus and for its rich, elegant casework. Pegasus bears the seemingly weightless globe on his outstretched wings. Astronomy was enabled by knowledge of arithmetic and geometry, then considered "the wings of the human mind."

[Elizabeth Cleland, 2017]
Signature: Signed on semi-circle mounted at right angles to meridian ring: GERHARD / EMMOSER · SAC[RAE] · CAES[ARAE] · MEIS[TATIS] · HOROLOGIARIUS · F[ECIT] · VIENNÆ · A[NNO] · 1579 [trans.: Gerhard Emmoser, clockmaker to the Holy Roman Emperor, Vienna, 1579]
Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II of Austria (by 1607/11–1648) ; Christina, Queen of Sweden (from 1651) ; Avocat Fortier, Conseiller du Roi (1770) ; M. Delacronière, Conseiller en la cour des aides de Paris (1781) ; M. Daugny (until 1858; his sale, Hôtel des Commissaires-Priséurs (Charles Pillet), Paris, March 8, 1858, no. 62); Charles Mannheim (in 1898) ; J. Pierpont Morgan , New York and London (until 1913) ; J. P. Morgan Jr. , New York (by descent, 1913–17; to MMA)
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