Saturday, February 27, 2010
Camille Flammarion/Flammarion woodcut
Yesterday marked the birthdate of Camille Flammarion [French astronomer]. Okay, who is Camille Flammarion? Flammarion published his first book in 1862, La pluralité des mondes habités [The Plurality of Inhabited Worlds] and he went on to become the mostly widely-read author of popular science books in the last half of the nineteenth century. Flammarion understood the importance of vivid and plentiful illustrations and his books are filled with attractive wood engravings that are still often reproduced. One of his illustrations has taken on a life of its own depicting in a Renaissance style a supposed medieval philosopher, poking his head through the sphere of stars to view the wheels and cogs that drive the heavens. It was used on the dust jacket of Daniel Boorstein's The Discoverers  and on many other book covers often described as a Renaissance woodcut. In fact, it is a wood engraving, and it first appeared in Flammarion's 1888 book, L'atmosphére.