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Description

Nice example of Cellarius's chart illustrating the path of the sun's annual rotation around the earth, from the northern tropic to the southern.

The band of the zodiac is included, with names and symbols of the various signs of the zodiac, surrounded by cherubs and other embellishments. This work appeared in his Harmonia Macrocosmica, a magnificent collection of star charts and plans of the Solar System. This is a simple projection of the Earth-centered on the Old World, which attempts to show a spiraling-upwards trend of the Sun's orbit around the moon. A series of twelve spirals, going up and down, represent how the Sun slowly tracks upwards and downwards as the months progress. Surrounding the map are cherubs and an attractively-colored cloudy scene.

Cellarius's Harmonia Macrocosmica

The most sought after of all celestial atlases, this is the only one to be produced during the Dutch cartographic golden age. This work, Cellarius's magnum opus, was produced as a means to illustrate competing theories of celestial mechanics, during an era in which these issues were very much still up for debate. With scholarly precision, but in a manner accessible to the contemporary reader, Cellarius describes, contrasts, and analyzes the hypotheses and observations made by the great thinkers of classical antiquity in addition to those made by his contemporaries.

Of particular interest are the volume's 29 hand-colored, double-page engraved plates. These depict the Sun, the Earth, and the stars in a way they had not been seen before. These magnificent depictions take all the strengths of Dutch 17th-century engraving and apply it to the sky: information is simply presented and any critical eye will immediately start to understand the points that Cellarius conveys.

The plates themselves would have been engraved by a host of Dutch workers, but only two have signed their names: van de Hove, who made the frontispiece, and van Loon, a noted creator of nautical charts. By 1660, the work was complete.  As mentioned by Cellarius in the text, he intended to publish a second volume that would adjust for this first volume's overreliance on the Ptolemaic model. This overreliance is present in several ways. In plates that pick a certain model of the Solar System, approximately ten show a pre-Copernican concept of the universe, while only two deal with a Copernican viewpoint and six with a Tychonic system. Further, the plates show little in the way of telescopic discoveries, such as the moons of Saturn. We note but two plates (23 and 28) in which a telescope is in active use among the many representations of astronomical tools in the other plates. It is likely that this intended second volume would have focused more heavily on modern astronomical discoveries. However, Cellarius was aware that it was unlikely that he would live long enough to finish a second volume, and thus intended for this work to be complete as it stood.

The plates can be divided into two sections: plates 1-21 deal with varying hypotheses on how the Solar System functions, citing Claudius Ptolemy, Tycho Brahe, Nicolaus Copernicus, as well as lesser-known figures such as Aratus of Soli. The plates convey, with two-dimensional in plano and three-dimensional scenographia depictions, how the planetary motions within each model account for contemporary observations. Some plates focus on other themes, these include the influence of the Earth's tilt on climatic effects and how we observe the stars, or the explanation for the phases of the Moon.

Plates 22-29 neglect the workings of the Solar System and instead focus on the constellations. While later scientific texts eschew discussions of these human constructions, in Cellarius's time they were still considered of critical scholarly importance. The most important recent innovations, which are displayed in various plates, are the discoveries and naming of Southern Hemisphere stars as well as the attempted renaming of the pagan constellations to fit Christian ideals. These plates are perhaps the most fantastic in the whole set, as they all, bar Plate 27 (which seeks to map the Southern Hemisphere), show the world as seen from outside the celestial realm, that is, we are looking from beyond the stars into our own existence.

Condition Description
Light marginal / mat toning along the bottom edge. Otherwise very good.
Andreas Cellarius Biography

Andreas Cellarius was born in 1596 in Neuhausen and educated in Heidelberg. He emigrated to Holland in the early 17th century, and in 1637 moved to Hoorn, where he became the rector of the Latin School. Cellarius' best-known work is his Harmonia Macrocosmica, first issued in 1660 by Jan Jansson, as a supplement to Jansson's Atlas Novus. The work consists of a series of Celestial Charts begun by Cellarius in 1647 and intended as part of a two-volume treatise on cosmography, which was never issued.

Cellarius' charts are the most sought after of celestial charts, blending the striking imagery of the golden age of Dutch Cartography with contemporary scientific knowledge. The present examples come from the Valk & Schenk edition of Cellarius' atlas, which is unchanged from the 1661 edition. The 1660 and 1661 editions can be distinguished by the inclusion of a plate number in the lower right corner of the 1661 edition. The Valk & Schenk edition can be distinguished by the addition of the printer's name (Valk & Schenk) in the titles of the maps.