Imagines Constellationum Australium (Southern Celestial Planishpere)

Description

Transylvanian Saxon humanist and theologian Jan Coronensis Honter used woodblocks to create his paired star maps, as did Albrecht Dürer before him.

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Transylvanian Saxon humanist and theologian Jan Coronensis Honter used woodblocks to create his paired star maps, as did Albrecht Dürer before him. (Durer's work, 'The Constellations of the Northern Sky with the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac' is object number 1988.182 in the museum collection.) Honter’s lively depiction of the southern hemisphere is illustrated here and was bound (with its partner) in a 1541 publication produced in Basel of the first collected works by Ptolemy 'Omnia, quae extant, opera, Geographia excepta' (All the Extant Works, Excepting Geographia). Unlike Dürer, Honter shied away from portraying the constellations in a state of undress; in Honter’s star charts they are expensively attired in modish European fashion with slashed doublets, hose, and flamboyant hats. In another departure from Dürer, the constellations are here positioned as if seen from earth, with the zodiacal figures proceeding clockwise around the ecliptic and in front view. Honter’s charts are the first printed star maps to use this method.

The more southerly constellations, some of which were known to the ancients, are shown: Cetus (the Whale), the Southern Crown, the ship Argo, the Centaur and Hydra, surmounted on this map by the Crater and Corvus (the Raven). Orion wields a club and animal skin, but is fashionably dressed, while under him is Lepus (the Hare) and a pyramid of six dots to indicate the Large Magellanic Cloud (a nearby galaxy first recorded in 964 CE by the Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi, known in Renaissance Europe as ‘Azophi the Arab’). The Milky Way extends from Orion to Aquarius, with a break in the unexplored south polar region.

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Dated

1532

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Materials

» paper (fibre product)

Technique

» woodcut (process)

Production place

» Basel, Switzerland

Collection

» Dallas Pratt Collection of Historical Maps

Dimensions

324x403mm

Object number

1988.143.2

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