The Age of Reason

Although most thinkers of the Enlightenment were certainly religious, scientific arguments of this period were defined by reason, rather than scripture. These maps show the gradual transformation from religious domination to academic discussion.

Nova et Accvratissima Totivs Terrarvm Orbis Tabvla. Auctore Ioanne Blaev.

This Dutch masterpiece shows us the western and eastern hemispheres, with highly defined borders. But above the map itself is an allegorical representation of the heavens. In the middle we see Apollo, the sun god, surrounded by Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, each rainbow ring representing a planet’s orbit around the sun. Beneath the hemispheres are allegorical seasons, Flora, Ceres, Bacchus, and Boreas.

Joan Blaeu, Amsterdam, 1662


Creatio Universi

Although this work is a biblical depiction, it also illustrates the various scientific concepts of the universe. The heliocentric model dominates the center of the map, surrounded by contradicting biblical models, including two armillary spheres. But the top of the map is occupied by the Hebrew name for God in the Old Testament, Tetragrammaton. Surrounding the heliocentric system are the Greek constellations of the Zodiac. A stunning example of engraving and color, this enlightenment masterpiece blends reason with religion.

Tigur Melchior Fuesslinus, Johannes Andreas Pfeffel, and Friderich Johannes, Augsburg, 1720