The publication of Andreas Cellarius’ Harmonia Macrocosmica in 1660 forms the final chapter of an ambitious cartographic project initiated 25 years earlier by the Amsterdam publisher Johannes Janssonius (1588-1664), namely, the publication of an ATLAS in several volumes which described not only the surface of the Earth but the whole of Creation, including the cosmos and its history.
The seeds of this plan had been sown nearly a century earlier by the renowned cartographer Gerard Mercator. In 1569, in the foreword to his Chronologia, Mercator stated his intention to publish an all-encompassing “cosmography”. A multi-volume atlas that would describe not only ancient and modern geography, but also the seas, the cities of the world, the firmament and chronology. Mercator published the first four volumes of his atlas between 1585 and 1589, with a supplementary fifth volume being published by his son Rumold (c. 1545-1599) in 1595.
Following Mercator’s death, his project was taken up by a succession of publishers, but it would be Johannes Janssonius who finally turned it into reality. In 1636 Janssonius and Henricus Hondius published the first version of their Novus Atlas, featuring some 320 maps in four languages. In 1650 Janssonius added a fifth volume, a nautical atlas with supplemental maps of the eastern hemisphere. A further volume was published between 1658 and 1662 and included the cartography of the ancient world.
With the addition of Andreas Cellarius’ Harmonia Macrocosmica in 1660 and an eight-volume compilation describing a number of cities (published in 1657), Janssonius’ “description of the world” - in the meantime entitled the Novus Atlas absolutissimus - was now complete in terms of the form originally envisioned by Mercator almost 100 years previously. In the foreword to his celestial atlas, which he dedicates to the English king Charles II, Andreas Cellarius explains that he originally drafted the plates and celestial maps contained within it solely for his own use, and for lovers of astronomy, but that after repeated appeals from the publisher, he had decided to make them available to a wider public.
a slide show on youtube
wikipedia: The first part of the ATLAS contains copper plate prints depicting the world systems of Claudius Ptolemy, Nicolaus Copernicus and Tycho Brahe. At the end are star maps of the classical and Christian constellations, the latter ones as introduced by Julius Schiller in his Coelum Stellatum Christianum of 1627. Because the atlas also contained plates supporting the then popular view of the Catholic Church, the book was not placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum...
- (text source) read “A masterpiece from the Golden Age of celestial cartography” on taschen.com
- view more images(plates) and captions from our image source
- buy prints of these masterpieces
- Julius Schiller. Coelum Stellatum Christianum, 1627 link 1 / link 2
- Divine sky: The Artistry of Astronomical Maps
- read more about Gerardus Mercator
- this post was supposed to be a tumblr reblog, but I thought it would be a much more interesting post with a small research… the post was firstly seen here
- this link of a list of cartographers might be as much irrelevant as interesting