Today we are featuring a recent addition to our inventory- several celestial maps from “Atlas Coelestis seu Harmonia Macrocosmica”, one of the finest 17th century Dutch celestial atlases produced. First published in 1661 by Andreas Cellarius, the copperplates were later reissued by Pieter Schenk and Gerard Valk in 1708. The “Harmonia Macrocosmica” represents the high point of not just Dutch celestial maps, but all artistic renditions of the celestial skies.
Renowned for its extensive and magnificent detailing, the maps offer numerous allegorical scenes of classical astronomers, globes, instruments, and representations of ancient Greek constellations, all in ornate Baroque-style renderings. The first 21 plates in this double page atlas offer a historical survey of the cosmological theories. They illustrate the motions of the sun and planets, according to masters of scientific inquiry such as Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Tycho Brahe.
The last 8 plates constitute celestial hemispheres and planispheres, and depict constellations. These plates are the most ornate of all, the level of artistic detail surpassing all other celestial atlases. Consequently, these last eight plates are the most collectible.
The “Harmonia Macrocosmica” represents the apex of celestial map design, however it lacks in scientific information. It was based largely on the existing work of scientists, and contributed nothing new of scientific worth. With the perfection of the telescope not soon after, the artistic flourishes in celestial map design soon took a backseat to accuracy and methodical exactness. While the beauty of the Cellarius atlas has rarely been superseded, it was quickly disregarded in favor of unassuming, but more accurate, maps.
We have the following maps from this atlas, all handcolored copper plate engravings published in 1708 by Schenk and Valk. The maps feature original full-wash color in the hemisphere and a pale green wash over the surrounding vignettes.
1. Haemisphaeria Sphaerarum Rectae et Obliquae Utriusque, Motus et Longitudines Tam Coelestes Quam Terrestres ac Stellarum Affectiones Monsrantia.
A map depicting the locations of stars and planets according to the upright (ecliptic) and oblique (equatorial) coordination systems.
2. Hemisphaerium Stellatum Boreale Antiquum.
A fine celestial chart depicting the constellations of the Northern Sky as viewed from Earth.
3. Hemisphaerium Stellatum Australe Antiquum.
A beautiful celestial chart depicting the ancient Greek constellations of the southern hemisphere in classical form.
4. Hemisphaerium Scenographicum Australe Coeli Stellati et Terrae.
A celestial chart depicting the constellations of the Southern Sky, set over a map showing the South Pole and southern South America and Africa.
5. Hemisphaerii Borealis Coli et Terrae Sphaeri Casceno Graphia.
A handsome celestial chart depicting the constellations of the northern hemisphere in classical form.
All of these maps can be bought and viewed on our website here or in our Washington, DC gallery, located in the heart of historic Georgetown.