Object 21

Andreas Cellarius, Johannes van Loo,
Atlas coelestis, seu Harmonia macrocosmica (pl. 19 – Typus selenographicus lunae phases and aspectus varios adumbrans)
Copper engraving (1660)
KBR, Maps and Plans
Inv. II 39.838 D

Gerardus Mercator's (1512-1594) life ambition was to publish an atlas about the entire cosmos and its history. Sadly, he died before being able to complete the work. His idea was then taken up by Johannes Janssonius (1588-1664), a publisher and cartographer from Amsterdam. He published a Novus Atlas Absolutissimus, a work in eight parts featuring maps of the land and sea, descriptions of the ancient world and city maps. The Harmonia Macrocosmica of the astronomer and cartographer Andreas Cellarius (1596-1665) formed the seventh part of this work. It appeared at a time of intense exploration of the sky, Moon and entire solar system.

With its 218 pages and 29 plates, the Harmonia Macrocosmica provided a history of astronomy and images of the universe, based mainly on Ptolemy's conventional geocentric model with Earth in the centre of the universe. The work apparently raised little interest among astronomers at the time. Its main attraction was the historic perspective of astronomy and also the incredible detail and care in the plates printed in double-folio format.

The exhibited plate illustrates the different positions of the Moon in three diagrams. The waxing and waning of the Moon is shown in an anti-clockwise direction. The key diagram illustrates 8 “stations” in this movement. The Earth is pictured in the centre of the system with the Moon and the Sun going around it, following a trajectory portrayed respectively by two circles. The two other diagrams also illustrate stations: right 12 and left 36. These are taken directly from the Selenographia by Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687) whose Moon map is also on display in this exhibition (renvoi necéssaire). In fact, this is not the only thing that Cellarius borrowed for his work. The little cherubs in the top-left corner of Cellarius' work are an exact copy, but mirror image, of those (on the top-right corner) of the map by Hevelius: only the title has been changed.

Mélusine : Contes de la pleine lune
Melisande : Verhalen bij volle maan
Sc : F.Gilson
Dupuis, 2002


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