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Cellarius Atlas: The Divine Sky - History's Most Beautiful Celestial Atlas (Harmonia Macrocosmica of 1660) Hardcover – 19 Oct 2006
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This collection of celestial maps by Dutch-German mathematician and cosmographer Andreas Cellarius (c. 1566 - 1665) brings back to life a masterpiece from the Golden Age of celestial cartography. First published in 1660 in the Harmonia Macrocosmica, the complete 29 double-folio maps and dozens of unusual details reproduced here depict the world systems of Claudius Ptolemy, Nicolaus Copernicus, and Tycho Brahe, the motions of the sun, the moon, and the planets, and the delineation of the constellations in various views. "Cellarius' Atlas", superbly embellished with richly decorated borders depicting cherubs, astronomers, and astronomical instruments, features some of the most spectacular illustration in the history of astronomy. This reprint, made from the beautifully hand-colored and complete copy of the first edition in the Library of the Universiteit van Amsterdam, includes a copiously illustrated introduction by Robert van Gent, one of the leading Cellarius experts, summarizing the history of celestial cartography from antiquity to late 17th/early 18th century and illuminating the life and work of Andreas Cellarius.Van Gent also discusses the historical and cultural context and significance of the atlas and provides detailed descriptions of the astronomical and iconographical content of the plates, allowing modern readers to fully appreciate the masterwork of Andreas Cellarius and his publisher, Johannes Janssonius. The book's detailed appendix includes a list of constellation figures with short descriptions of their origin and mythology, a list of star names found on the plates, a glossary of technical words, and a bibliography. Though these beautiful maps have become famous by being depicted on postcards, calendars, portfolios, and even mouse pads, they have rarely been reproduced in book form and never with such comprehensive descriptions and details as this Taschen edition. Cellarius's exquisite renditions of the constellations will excite the astronomer in anyone.
About the Author
Robert van Gent is a collaborator on the Explokart Research Program for the History of Cartography at the University of Utrecht's Faculty of Geosciences. After obtaining his PhD in astronomy at the University of Utrecht, he worked from 1989 to 1999 as curator of astronomy at the Museum Boerhaave in Leiden. He has published on the history of astronomy, celestial cartography, and astronomical instruments. Since 2005 he has been working on a carto-bibliography of celestial atlases, planispheres, and related items published in the Low Countries.
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These plates are exquisite; moreover, large-scale figures giving of specific details from these prints bear close scrutiny and motivate one to look more closely. Some professional astronomers of this era were quite dismissive about this work, claiming that the stars were obscured by the traditional constellation figures. There are two sides to this: Astronomical fashion was rightly turning towards constellation figures rendered as simple outlines only – this was more practicable as it indeed enabled the stars to be seen more clearly. In defence of Cellarius on the other hand, given that he rendered the figures in full detail, he took very great pains (as some other artists did not) to make the stars stand out as distinctly as possible.
The modern editorial commentary by Robert Van Gent is lucid and scholarly. It is given in three languages: English, French and German.
It is a huge book (32cm by 3cm by 54cm), but slightly smaller than the size stated by Amazon. This is because Amazon includes the dimensions of the decorative cardboard box in which the publisher tightly packs the book. It should be mentioned that Taschen produced a second edition in a smaller format. This would be less unwieldy, but I much prefer the greater impact of the first edition. Both are now sadly (and unfathomably) out of print. Be careful to check which edition you are buying from Amazon.
I had excellent service in buying my (brand new) copy from vendor bauhaus07. The price was very reasonable – just 50% over the publisher’s original selling price. This is a sumptuous book that I’m very pleased to own – now all I need is a scriptorium!
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