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Cosmological Illustrations


This digital collection is currently in development. It includes Cartesian cosmological illustrations printed in Descartes's Le Monde and the third part of the Principles of Philosophy, between 1644 and 1677. More illustrations will be catalogued and added at a later stage.  An example of the possible expansion of the collection is provided in another section of the website (it can be accessed by pressing the "Next" button, below) and it includes a (work-in-progress) collection of the illustrations included in Descartes's correspondence edited by Clerselier and a showcase of a possible user scenario (comparison of images from the Principles III), based on the use of the Mirador Viewer included on the platform.

Research on this topic was conducted within the project Early Modern Cosmology Between “Mosaic Physics” and Mechanical Philosophy (1650-1713). Ovidiu Babeș and Ioana Bujor are helping with the development of the collection.

Please feel free to email your suggestions and comments about this collection to Mihnea Dobre (mihnea.dobre [at]

In order to report an error on the website, please fill in this form.

A timeline with the early modern editions of Descartes's writings included in this collection is available here:

Sources and acknowledgments:

Illustrations collected here have been selected from open access sources, especially from digitized books in the public domain available on Gallica, but also from other sources such as BIU Santé (Paris), La Bibliothèque numérique patrimoniale des universités Toulosianes, Munich DigitiZation Center (MDZ), PLUME and the Internet Archive.

The current Omeka S site has been set up with the help of the IT Department at the University of Bucharest.

Version details:

December 2019 - March 2020:

  • Setting up the project in Tropy. A local database was created with illustrations selected from several seventeenth-century editions of Descartes's writings.

April: early release

  • Sources included: Principia philosophia (1644) - 44 illustrations; Les Principes de la philosophie (1647) - 10 illustrations; Le Monde (1664) - 32 illustrations.
  • Metadata annotations following the Dublin core standard.
  • Test the categories of the exhibition, check the metadata for all the items.
  • Small corrections and changes on the website (e.g., on the About page). We added an error report form. We also added a CC licence.
  • Added another website to the platform: Cosmologii carteziene, which acts as an outreach platform (in Romanian) for the research project.

May: test phase

  • Test the categories of the exhibition, check the metadata for all items.
  • Added links to external sources (e.g., Gallica).
  • Add relations links in the metadata (in development).
  • Test other Omeka modules.

June: test phase

  • Encountered some technical problems with the Omeka installment, which were solved in early July.
  • Test several Omeka modules (e.g., Mirador Viewer, Universal Viewer).
  • Background work with the database.

July: supplement the collection

August: add new functionalities