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A Mystic Reaches for the Infinite

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This woodcut originated in a 19th-century popular science text.

It is entitled "The Universe and Man" and is based on a 16th century motif, which was later published by French astronomer Camille Flammarion in L'Atmosphère: Météorologie Populaire (Paris, 1888).

The engraving depicts a man, clothed in a long robe and carrying a staff, who kneels down and passes his head, shoulders, and right arm through a gap between the star-studded sky and the earth, discovering a marvellous realm of circling clouds, fires and suns beyond the heavens.

One of the elements of the cosmic machinery bears a strong resemblance to 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 . . .'

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To see a larger image of this artwork, please click on 'Camille Flammarion' below.
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