Sunday, 21 November 2021

Johann Bessler’s Portrait Lies Behind A Geometer

I planned to share a lot of clues in this blog but time is short, so I’ll give you a hint at what I’m going to share in the next one. First of all I want to share some information about the portraits that Johann Bessler placed in one of his books.

The mystery which lies in front of the portrait of Johann Bessler in the front of his book, Das Triumpirende Perpetuum Mobile ORFFYREAN may be less mysterious than it appears to be..  

Bessler placed his own portrait behind another one of an older style which had a number of scientific instruments displayed. He seems to have taken some care to find a portrait which matched his own in size and position. He carefully cut out the face of the old style portrait and lined them up so precisely that his own face appeared to be looking through.

See his portraits below

Now you see him looking through the older portrait below. Note the instruments at the bottom of the portrait.

In this last one you can see how the portraits were arranged, the one with the hole in it folded over the Bessler portrait.

I believe that the figure in the older portrait with the hole in it is a Geometer or what is sometimes a called Geometrician.

According to various dictionaries a geometer/geometrician is a mathematician specializing in geometry. A list of famous Geometers includes, Archimedes, Pythagoras, Apollonius and of course, Euclid.  

Geometers are concerned with properties of space that are related with distance, shape, size, and relative position of figures.

In his Apologia Poetica Bessler tells us that, “I became an expert in astronomical matters and in the calculation of calendars. The surveying of woods, meadows and fields was another serious pursuit for me. I’m sure he was familiar with the instruments common to both Geometers and surveyors.

So I looked into the history of Geometric instruments and found several pictures and here are some I found which, as can be seen, are similar to the ones at the bottom of the Geometer portrait.

This picture just above came from “Giacomo & Domenico Lusverg, Box of mathematical instruments, 1688 - 1710. Rome, Italy. Brass, Copper, Glass, Steel. Medici collections. Museo Galileo”.

That he saw himself as a Geometer, makes the most sense in my opinion, but what is he telling us?  Bearing in mind that Euclid, for instance was included in the list of famous Geometers, as was Pythagoras, I’m not surprised that Bessler included himself in that illustrious list.  He did title himself, Doctor of Mathematics, Medicine and Perpetual Motion. So I think he regarded himself as a Geometer.  The older portrait included many of the instruments he would be familiar with.

The fact that he appears to be looking through the eyes of a Geometer, suggests he wanted us to see him as a geometer and that we should be looking for evidence of his geometrical figures in his own portrait and they are there. If you to go to my web site at for just a hint at what is there, I should warn you that the pentagram is wrong but the concept is right. I posted that web site ten years ago and much has changed since then.

Much greater detail to follow.



  1. If the older portrait is of another person as you suggest, then the instruments shown, and their relative positioning, may not be of any significance. However, what could change this is if Bessler's fingers are pointing to instruments on the older portrait. I think some time ago, someone made the older portrait transparent so you could see Bessler in the background, and where his hands/fingers point. Not sure where that can be found though.

    1. Yes I remember but it was too difficult to see the instruments. I suppose he could have used tracing paper, (apparently around 1400, the Italian painter Cennino Cennini gave a detailed account in his celebrated manual of late mediaeval painting techniques (Libro dell'arte) of how to manufacture transparent paper – either by soaking paper in oil, or by boiling fish size and brushing it onto a stone slab in a transparent layer) and laid it over his portrait to position his hands accordingly.

      Thanks for reminding me, I might give that a try and post the results here.


    2. I checked the positions of Bessler’s hands relative to the figure in the old portrait and the only interesting thing I could find was this.

      Bessler’s right hand index finger actually connects with the index on the left hand of the figure in the older portrait. The only thing I can think of with that image is ‘The creation of Adam’, a fresco by Michelangelo in the Sistene Chapel. God gives life to Adam.



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