Flammarion engraving

I was reading iA’s grumpy writing about GPT (with which I sympathize) when my attention was captured by the image they added to their post. It was so fascinating that I had to research it.

Flammarion engraving

As it turns out, this is the Flammarion engraving, a famous wood engraving by an unknown artist, so named because its first documented appearance is in Camille Flammarion’s 1888 book L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire (“The Atmosphere: Popular Meteorology”).

The print depicts a man, clothed in a long robe and carrying a staff, at the edge of the Earth, where it meets the sky. He kneels and passes his head, shoulders, and right arm through the star-studded sky, discovering a marvelous realm of circling clouds, fires and suns beyond the heavens. One of the elements of the cosmic machinery closely resembles traditional pictorial representations of the “wheel in the middle of a wheel” described in the visions of the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel. The caption that accompanies the engraving in Flammarion’s book reads:

A missionary of the Middle Ages tells that he had found the point where the sky and the Earth touch…

The Flammarion engraving has inspired and has been used by many writers, artists, researchers, and jack-of-all-trades. The whole story is available at the Wikipedia page linked above.

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