Coronelli's Idea of the Universe
Decorative example of Coronelli's 2-sheet Cosmographical Chart, published in Venice.
Magnificent celestial chart representing the major astronomical and astrological theories from classical times to the end of the 17th century. The central engraving is a large celestial planisphere incorporating the rotations of the planets and signs of the zodiac, which is surrounded by 4 blowing windheads and 5 planetary diagrams.
The subjects include a perpetual calendar, the zodiac, the parts of the body dominated by each zodiac sign, the theories of eclipses and a cross-section of the Earth including the various circles of Hell according to Dante's Divine Comedy.
The border is comprised of 28 smaller diagrams ranging from illustrations of solar and lunar eclipses and terrestrial maps to diagrams of astrological aspects and a chart indicating which zodiacal signs govern the various parts of the body. As a whole the engraving provides a spectacular visual compendium of astronomical and celestial theories.
Vincenzo Coronelli apprenticed as a Xylographer, before joining the Convental Franciscans in 1665. In about 1678, after studying Astronomy and Euclid, Coronelli began working as a geographer and was commissioned to make a set of Terrestrial and Celestial Globes Ranuccio II Farnese, the Duke of Parma which were 5 feet in diameter. Coronelli was next invited to Rome to construct a similar pair of Globes for Louis XIV. From 1681 to 1683, Coronelli lived in Paris, where he constructed a pair of 10 foot diameter globes for the King, at a weight of nearly 4000 pounds.
The fame and importance of Coronelli's globe led to the production of a 42 inch diameter globe in 1688, for which complete of examples of which reside in a number of major institutional collections around the world. Separate globe gore sheets from this famous globe periodically appear on the market. Coronelli worked for a number of years as a Geographer and Theologian, before returning to Venice in 1705, where he published his Atlante Veneto and Corso Geographico and founded the Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti.
Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (1650-1718) was one of the most influential Italian mapmakers and was known especially for his globes and atlases. The son of a tailor, Vincenzo was apprenticed to a xylographer (a wood block engraver) at a young age. At fifteen he became a novice in a Franciscan monastery. At sixteen he published his first book, the first of 140 publications he would write in his lifetime. The order recognized his intellectual ability and saw him educated in Venice and Rome. He earned a doctorate in theology, but also studied astronomy. By the late 1670s, he was working on geography and was commissioned to create a set of globes for the Duke of Parma. These globes were five feet in diameter. The Parma globes led to Coronelli being named theologian to the Duke and receiving a bigger commission, this one from Louis XIV of France. Coronelli moved to Paris for two years to construct the King’s huge globes, which are 12.5 feet in diameter and weigh 2 tons.
The globes for the French King led to a craze for Coronelli’s work and he traveled Europe making globes for the ultra-elite. By 1705, he had returned to Venice. There, he founded the first geographical society, the Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti and was named Cosmographer of the Republic of Venice. He died in 1718.