Hæmisphærium Stellatum Australe æquali Sphærarum Proportione
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Andreas Cellarius (1596-1665)
Plate 29 – Hæmisphærium Stellatum Australe æquali Sphærarum Proportione
From: Atlas Coelestis seu Harmonia Macrocosmica
Amsterdam: Schenk and Valk, 1708
Hand-colored copperplate engraving
36 1/2” x 32" framed
Aesthetically, this plate is whimsical and intriguing. The image is intricate, like many other plates in this series. What is visually enjoyable and unique to these constellation pieces is the disorientation of the figures. They are factually, for the time period, assigned to their constellations, but when they are displayed in their celestial spheres, they are upside down or on their side, defying gravity. Although this is to be expected, it is such a nice contrast to the scene surrounding these floating figures, which is static and a scene which visually refers to what one might scene on Earth. To then have a giant boat turned upside down only several centimeters away makes for such an interesting visual.
This plate depicts the southern stellar hemisphere. An interesting point about this plate the maps reference to several islands. Taschen’s book “Andreas Cellarius” notes that the Dutch names refer to a voyage undertaken in 1615 by Jacob le Maire and Willem Schouten. In an attempt to break the monopoly of the Dutch East India company, they set sail from Hoorn (Cellarius’s home town) in the Netherlands to find a new route to the Far East. Marked on the plate are Brouwers Straet (Brouwer’s Straight), Honden Eyl [ant] (“Island of Dogs”), Vliegen Eyl [ant] (“Island of Flies”), Verranders Eyl [ant] (“Traitors Island”), Cocos Eylant (“Cocos Island”), Eyl [ant] v[an] de Goede Hope (“Island of Good Hope”), and the Hoornsche Eyl [ant] (“Island of Hoorn”)
This plate has 23 Ptolemaic constellations, 7 signs of the zodiac, and 12 constellations founded by Petrus Plancius. As in plate 26, Hercules and Atlas are depicted in the bottom of the plate.