Coeli Stellati Christiani Hæmisphærium Prius (2)
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Andreas Cellarius (1596-1665)
Plate 22 – Coeli Stellati Christiani Hæmisphærium Prius (2)
From: Atlas Coelestis seu Harmonia Macrocosmica
Amsterdam: Schenk and Valk, 1708
Hand-colored copperplate engraving
36 1/2” x 32" framed
This is the first of two plates that depict the constellation system from “Coelum Stelatum Christianum” by Julius Sciller. His system involved altering the identified constellations, which at the time were referred to by mythological figures, to be represented by Christian icons. The 12 signs of the Zodiac are replaced in this system by the twelve disciples, substituting Matthias in the place of Judas. Other celestial bodies in the system, such as the Moon, Sun, and Planets, were also replaced by biblical references.
The visual elements of this plate are extremely intricate and involve a heavy amount of imagery in the center subject space, surrounded furthermore by a dense area of figures. Combined, the details of the inner and outer subjects play into a vast and visual pattern that seems to run through the whole canvas, separated only by a small circular border around the center. The coloring aspects of the prints from this plate alter this image greatly. The pattern, made of closely drawn subjects, either expands across the page from border to border when everything is colored with a similar palette, or it is separated by using differing color schemes for the inside subject circle and surrounding decorative space. This visual element will stand out immediately to any viewer looking at two pieces colored differently in the way just described. This means of dense composition is so intriguing through its ability to provide such vastly different visuals from one single plate.