54
54

PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN

Blaeu, Willem Janszoon
Estimate
20,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 25,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
54

PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN

Blaeu, Willem Janszoon
Estimate
20,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 25,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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Blaeu, Willem Janszoon
A Dutch celestial table globe ‘SPHÆRA STELLIFERA’, published Amsterdam 1603, re-issued after 1621 (Van der Krogt BLA I. 3rd State)

the 34 cm. diameter celestial table globe made up of twelve engraved and hand coloured gores and two polar calottes laid to the ecliptic poles on a papier-mâché and plaster sphere, the axis through the celestial poles, with titular cartouche, a dedicatory cartouche surmounted by the arms of Prince Maurits of Nassau, two further cartouches and portrait of Tycho Brahe to Southern hemisphere; supported in a graduated brass meridian circle, the contemporary oak and ebonised stand with horizon ring, with a crack, on four columnar legs united with cross-stretchers and moulded platform, the engraved paper calendrical scale missing, the engraved gores with some wear and discolouring


50cm. high, 40cm. diameter; 19¾in., 15¾in.
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Literature

Peter van de Krogt, Globi Neerlandici: the production of globes in the Low Countries, Utrecht, 1993; E. Dekker, Globes at Greenwich, Oxford and Greenwich, 1999

Catalogue Note

This celestial globe was produced by Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638), one of the greatest Dutch globe-makers of the 'Golden Age'. As a young man, Blaeu had visited the celebrated Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe at his Uraniborg observatory on Hven in 1595, where he assisted Brahe with his observations and also made a close study of his celestial globe. This served as the basis for Blaeu's first celestial globe, which was issued in 1597 or 1598, using the observations of Brahe and other astronomers and depicting the constellations pictorially with drawings commissioned from the Dutch artist Jan Pietersz. Saenredam: 'The astronomical content combined with the new drawing style made this celestial globe the best and most modern of its time' (E. Dekker and P. van de Krogt, Globes from the Western World, London, 1993, p. 45).  However, it was soon challenged by a celestial globe published by Blaeu's greatest rival, Jodocus Hondius I in 1598, which incorporated data from the new observations undertaken in the southern hemisphere by Petrus Plancius' expedition. Blaeu's response was to sponsor a second expedition to chart the southern skies, led by his fellow-citizen of Alkmaar, Frederick de Houtman, which provided an alternative – and improved – source of astronomical data.

The various states of Blaeu's 1597/1598 celestial globe are listed in the book of Peter van de Krogt 'Globi Neerlandici’ (op. cit.). The present globe, unpublished, is of the third state (van de Krogt, BLA I, 3rd State, op. cit. pp. 492-494) and was issued after circa 1621. The only distinction between the third and the previous states (also measuring 34 cm and with the publishing date 1603) is that the dedicatory cartouche to Maurits of Nassau, Prince of Orange is signed 'Guilielmus Janssonius Blaeu', rather than 'Guilielmus Janssonius Alcmarianus', as it had been in the two earlier states. According to van de Krogt the third state was also the latest state for a celestial globe of this specific size. Regarding the descriptive dating after 1621 one needs to consider that it is highly unlikely that Blaeu kept producing similar globes for decades thereafter still using the original publishing date 1603; he surely at some point would have changed the publishing date to a more recent one.

We gratefully thank Mr. Diederick Wildeman curator at the Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.

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