Table clock with planetarium, Paris circa 1775 Jean-André (1720-1788) and Nicole-Reine Lepaute (1723-1788)
The Cosmos – an Enduring Mystery
"The Cosmos – an Enduring Mystery" exhibition at the Museum Rietberg in Zurich
till 31 May 2015
Drawing on 17 different cultures throughout the world, this fascinating exhibition explores how people have concerned themselves with the cosmos since time immemorial. In Europe, the modern conception of the universe was introduced by the French philosopher, René Descartes (1596-1650), who described the cosmos as a large-scale mechanism and the world as the movement of a clock, in which all the components interlock precisely. In this mechanical philosophy, which has prevailed in Europe since the end of the 17th century, clocks, watches and automata are the most important instruments used to explore and understand the world.
The Beyer Clock and Watch Museum has enhanced this exhibition with two planetarium timepieces ‒ a table clock by Jean-André and Nicole-Reine Lepaute and a pocket watch by Jakob Auch. It is worthy of mention that Lepautes’ nephew, astronomer Joseph Lepaute Dagelet (1751–1788), accompanied the French explorer, Lapérouse, on his famous scientific expedition to the Pacific in 1785.