Celestial globe with clockwork

Maker: Gerhard Emmoser (German, active 1556–84)

Date: 1579

Culture: Austrian, Vienna

Medium: Partially gilded silver, gilded brass (case); brass, steel (movement)

Dimensions: 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)

Classification: Metalwork-Silver In Combination

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.636


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]