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[Nova Reperta] New Inventions of Modern Times
Jan Collaert after Jan van der Straet (Stradanus), published by Philips Galle, New Inventions of Modern Times [Nova Reperta], ca. 1600 (second edition: 1630), copperplate engraving, 20 x 27 cm.
A fine example of the frontispiece of the series of prints Nova Reperta.
Bibliography: F. W. H. Hollstein Dutch & Flemish Etchings, Engravings, and Woodcuts, 1450-1700. 2008, cat. no. (Stradanus), III, 322, p.5-6.
This engraving is the frontispiece of a series of prints entitled Nova Reperta (New Inventions of Modern Times) consisting of a title page and 19 plates, engraved by Jan Collaert I, after Jan van der Straet, known as Stradanus, and published by Philips Galle. The title is indicated at the top just above a representation of a printing press. Two medallions also appear in the composition: the one on the left represents the Americas and the one on the right a compass rose. On the left, a woman represents an allegory of the future, pointing to the map, while on the right, a man represents the past and steps out of the picture plane. At the bottom of the scene, nine other inventions or discoveries of the time are depicted: the silkworm, the stirrup, the clock, the cannon, distillation tools and the gaiacum. The graphic arrangement of this print shows that for its author, the discovery of his time that transcends all others, is that of the Mundus Novus. The two navigators who are honored by the presence of their names on the circular band that surrounds the representation of the American continent (North America, Central America, South America) are indeed the Genoese Christopher Columbus and the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci: CHRISTOPHOR. COLVMBVS GENVENS. inventor... AMIRICVS VESPVCCIVS FLORENT, tvtator vt denominato. As for the circular band on the left, which surrounds a circle of the same size as that of America, it honors the inventor of the magnetized stone, which indicates the pole. It reads: FLAVIVS AMALFINATVS ITALVS INVENTOR. The Nova Reperta is part of a long tradition of cataloguing inventions. Perhaps the most complete list is found in Polydore Vergil's De Inventoribus Rerum (1499), while the shortest and most influential is the oft-quoted aphorism in Francis Bacon's Novum Organum (1620), which observes that "the arts of printing, gunpowder, and the compass... have changed the whole face and condition of things throughout the world, in literature, war, and navigation" (Book I, aphorism 129).
Jan Van der Straet, also known as Joannes Stradanus was a Flemish painter, draftsman and illustrator. He was born in Bruges in 1523 and was active during the 16th century in Florence where died in 1605.