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Mapping All of Existence

Massive lithographed data visualization poster, published in Paris in 1853. This is a herculean effort of data visualization. The author ("De Rochas") of the poster here attempts to organize all of existence on a single 5-foot-tall broadside.

At the top of the chart is God and his attributes ("Dieu | Ses Attributs") from whence everything in the Universe is derived. Emanating from God are six attributes: Eternity, Love, Intelligence, Unity, Immensity, and Power.  Everything in the chart flows from older and simpler forms at the top to more complex and more recent forms at the bottom. From God's six attributes are derived, in order: Time, Morality, Logic, Math, Geometry, and Mechanics. From Morality and Logic flow Moral Beauty and then Intellectual Beauty. From Geometry and Mechanics flows first Physical Beauty and then Artistic Beauty ("Les divers Attributs divins se réunissent pour former le Beau Absolu Objet de la Science appelée Esthétique.")

Directly beneath God is the Sky and all of physical creation with aspects of "Physical Chemistry" including atomic particles (more accurately elements) and related phenomena such as light, electricity, and magnetism. From these flows Space, represented by celestial maps of the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, with the Solar System between them. Along the left side of the diagram is a chronology of the different Ages with a reasonably sophisticated theory of organization from simpler forms of energy and matter into more complicated cosmic bodies and eventually the "Systême Planetaire de L'Homme". In truth, the explanations laid out here resemble modern physical cosmology and the theory of the Big Bang, prefiguring them by more than 60 years. In the 6th Age, the Cambrian Period, the focus of the chart shifts to earth. On the left side is Fauna and on the right Flora, further right are the geological eras. In the middle are taxonomic classifications.

At the base of the chart is Man - "Homme (Adam et Eve)". Here is a rather fascinating idea of time, which diverges from a strictly Biblical interpretation. According to the authors, in year 1 God finishes his work with the creation of Man and Woman at which point History begins. From there the clock counts upwards to year 3984 when Christ is born. Then the clock starts over again and counts up to 1853. Much like with God at the top, humanity's basic ("Psychologie") attributes flow from it (Power, Love, Intelligence) and from them arise more complex ideas such as Virtue, the Arts, Private Rights, etc. From the latter idea flows Government and Human Rights. Three main columns occupy the bottom part of Humanity: Languages, Religions, and Peoples. These columns resemble the traditional charts of time that were popular in the 19th century.

We have been unable to definitively trace the name of the author. Eugène Auguste Albert de Rochas d'Aiglun (1837-1914) a French author and experimenter in paranormal phenomena would seem a likely suspect but for the fact that he was 16 when the poster was published. His father, Marie Joseph Eugène de Rochas d'Aiglun, was a judge and could have been the author.  In the explanation at the bottom of the poster our De Rochas credits Mr. J.B. Vidaillet with supporting the project.

This is certainly one of the most impressive, if not the most impressive, attempts at a comprehensive visual organization of knowledge that we have seen.


OCLC records a single example, at Northwestern University Library.

Condition Description
Packed on modern archival poster linen. Old iron gall ink stain in the left margin. Numbered "No. 64" in ink in the lower-left corner. Overall Good to Very Good.