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Description

A striking celestial hemispheric star chart by Andreas Cellarius. The image is intricately designed, with three different charts showing a large variety of constellations. Most important on this chart is the Christianization of the constellations, a rarely shown retelling of all major constellations.

This is the first edition of the map, preceding the addition of plate numbers in the lower right corners of the maps (in 1661), and before the addition of Valk & Schenk's imprint in the title blocks (in 1708).

This spectacular celestial chart presents the constellations according to Christian symbolism. The view of the constellations is based on the work of the early 17th-century astronomer, Julius Schiller, who sought to replace the traditional pagan symbols with ones derived from Judeo-Christian sources. Schiller replaced the zodiacal constellations with the twelve apostles, the constellations north of the zodiac by figures from the New Testament and the constellations south of the zodiac by figures from the Old Testament.

On this chart, the major constellations are represented as follows:

  • Sagittarius = Matthew
  • Aquarius = Judas Thaddeus
  • Pisces = Matthias
  • Aries = Peter
  • Taurus = Andrew
  • Cassiopeia = Mary Magdalene
  • Orion = Joseph
  • Cygnus = St. Helena, holding the cross.
  • The River of Eridanus = The parting of the Red Sea

Unsurprisingly, this Christianization of constellations did not catch on. The "pagan" constellations are still with us today, along with the stories they tell. This is a rare and very attractive example of this brief fad in astronomy.

The Harmonica Macrocosmica of Andreas Cellarius is widely regarded as the most beautiful and finely executed celestial atlas ever published. The atlas appeared in two early editions of 1660 and 1661, and was also intended as part of Jansson's Atlas Maior. Schenk & Valk re-issued the atlas in 1708, using the original Cellarius plates, without alteration, except for the addition of their names in the title cartouche.

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.