A John Russell selenograph, London, circa 1800.

A model of the moon, mounted in an elaborate brass frame on stand, dimensions overall: 50.4cm x 34cm x 45.3cm.

The model was the result of Russell’s decades of study of the moon, since first seeing it as a young boy, through a friend’s telescope.

He became fascinated by it and enthralled by its beauty and remarkably, in terms of accuracy, the model is said to be an almost perfect representation of the moon.

It was purchased from Russell by Henry, 10th Earl of Exeter (1754-1804), when he came to Burghley in 1799 to paint portraits of the Earl’s children. 

The Earl was interested in the Sciences and acquired many and varied examples of scientific instruments.

However, when the selenograph was rediscovered in a store room in 1985, it was still in the pine box in which it was shipped from London, packed in protective sheepswool and with a label attached giving directions to change horses at Bedford!


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