Harmonia Macrocosmica seu Atlas Universalis et novus, totius Universi Creati Cosmographiam generalem et noviam exhibens

Harmonia Macrocosmica seu Atlas Universalis et novus, totius Universi Creati Cosmographiam generalem et noviam exhibens

Joannem Janssonium
Size : 525 x 330 mm
Color : Original colors
Reference : 516

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Large folio, 525 x 330 mm. Contemporary full vellum. Frontispiece, [14], 125, 219 pp, 29 double-page engraved maps.

The most sought-after of all celestial atlases and the only one produced during the Dutch cartographic Golden Age.

First edition second printing of what is considered the most beautiful celestial atlas ever published and one of the masterpieces of the golden age of celestial cartography. The Atlas Coelestis seu Harmonia macrocosmica by the famous German cartographer, mathematician and cosmographer Andreas Cellarius (ca. 1596-1665) brings together old and new knowledge on the subject. It is superbly illustrated with an allegorical frontispiece and 29 double-page copper-engraved celestial maps, all finely enhanced in color and gold by a contemporary hand.

The splendid maps, richly decorated in the baroque style and illustrating a long text placed at the beginning of the volume, show the planetary systems according to the theories of Ptolemy (geocentrism), Copernicus (heliocentrism) and Tycho Brahe (geoheliocentrism), the position of the stars, the movements of the Sun, the Moon, the planets, the delimitation of the constellations according to mythology and the Christian religion.

These maps are among the most beautiful ever made. They are decorated with scenes, most of them historiated, representing cherubs, astronomers, instruments... On thesplendid frontispiece engraved by Frederik Hendrik van den Hove (ca. 1628-1698) are represented, among others, the astronomical muse Urania, Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, Ptolemy, the Greek astronomer of the 3rd century BC, Aristarchus of Samos who was one of the first to suggest the movement of the Earth around the Sun, etc.

Among the most astonishing plates in the atlas are those of the ‘Christian sky’: on the Christian planisphere showing the southern hemisphere (pl.24 - Haemisphaerium Stellatum Boreale Antiquum), the ship Argo is replaced by Noah’s Ark, or again, on the Christian boreal planisphere (pl.25 - Hemispherii Borealis Coeliet Terrae Sphaerica Scenographia), on which six of the saints of the zodiac are represented, including Saint Andrew with his cross (replacing Taurus and the Hyades cluster), the Sepulchre (replacing Andromeda) and the Red Sea (replacing the river Eridan). Similarly, the plate Hemisphaerium Australis Coeli & Terrae Scenographia (pl.28) represents a never before-used view of the sky, in which the constellations of the southern hemisphere are superimposed on the map of the globe. The arrangement is ingenious, but its practical usefulness for the astronomers of the time is questionable. Aesthetic concerns therefore prevailed.

There are hardly any biographical data on Andreas Cellarius (ca. 1595-1665). He may have been of German origin (Neuhausen, near Worms), and studied at the University o fHeidelberg from 1614. He settled in Holland around 1625 and worked as a schoolmaster at the Latin School in Amsterdam, and then The Hague. In 1637 he moved to Hoorn, where he was appointed as rector of the Latin School in the former Ceciliaklooster. At the time the first edition of his famous Celestial Atlas, Harmonia Macrocosmica, was published by Joannes Janssonius in Amsterdam in 1660, he was still rector of this LatinSchool (see title-page).

Reference : Koeman IV, Cel 2 ; BnF, Figures du ciel, pp. 96-101; A Bio-Bibliography of Andreas Cellarius, website of the Faculty of Science of the University of Utrecht, https://webspace.science.uu.nl/~gent0113/cellarius/cellarius.htm