An Exceptional Example.
An exceptionally-colored celestial chart illustrating the motions of both the upright sphere (the equatorial co-ordinate system) and the oblique sphere (the ecliptic co-ordinate system); the celestial and terrestrial longitudes; and the influences of the stars, from Andreas Cellarius's Harmonia Macrocosmica, widely considered the finest celestial atlas ever published.
The chart shows a projection of the Earth with lines of latitude and longitude. This demonstrates how various the changing position of the observer combined with the tilt of the Earth cause different celestial observations to be made. This chart treats a complex three-dimensional problem in a two-dimensional projection. It makes apparent how stars of different celestial latitudes will appear differently to observes based at various latitudes and longitudes, to illustrate this point there are five different "cities" projected as observers. Particularly explicated is the point that, for certain latitudes, a northern hemisphere star can appear directly overhead in the southern hemisphere, and vice versa. There are also stars that will never be visible in the northern hemisphere if they are below the polar lines.
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.
A Note on Color and Relative Value
In nice original or later hand-coloring, we have recently sold this map for just over $1,000; thus, this example's price of $2,400 might appear aggressive. However, we believe that this map truly is that much better than any other example out there, and we think you will agree.
This example's hand-coloring triumphs are most notable in the contrast of the clouds, their subtle yellow background, the shading of the putti, the extensive highlighting in gold, and most importantly, the fine attention to detail everywhere on the map. These elements elevate the star chart beyond the majority of Cellarius charts that will be encountered.
We bought this map in 2022 along with four other related charts from Cellarius's Harmonia Macrocosmica seu Atlas Universalis et Novus, including a pair of Cellarius's constellations. The exquisite hand-coloring, border embellishments, and other features that we see on these charts are indicative of the highest level of late-17th-century Dutch hand-coloring. With the chart's red-and-yellow border, careful gold highlighting, and astoundingly detailed hand-coloring, these charts may well be the work of Dirk Janszoon Van Santen, the most famous of the Golden Age Dutch colorists.
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 finely engraved images designed to illustrate the concepts introduced. Plates in the work 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 several Dutch master engravers, but only two have signed their names: Frederik van den Hove, who made the frontispiece, and Johannes van Loon, a noted creator of nautical charts. By 1660, the work was complete.
In the text, Cellarius states his intention 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.
The plates of the Harmonia can be divided into two sections: the first twenty-one 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 and Aristarchus. 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.
The final eight plates look past 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. Some of these plates show the world as seen from outside the celestial realm, that is, we are looking from beyond the stars into our own existence, and these are truly remarkable in their perspective.
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.