Description

    Athanasius Kircher's
    Great Art of Light and Shadow

    Athanasius Kircher. Ars Magna Lucis et Umbræ, In X. Libros digest. Amstelodami: Joannem Janssonium à Waesberge & Hæredes Elizæi Weyerstraet, 1671. Second edition. [28], 810, [10] pages. Illustrated with multiple engravings and hundreds of text wood cuts, engraved title page by Petrus Miotte, full page engraved portrait of Joannes Fridericus von Waldstein, device on title page surrounded with Greek, Hebrew, and Latin type, large decorated tail-pieces and initials, fold-out "Horoscopium Catholicum Societ IIesu" present with a small hole and a nine inch tear in the image area. Contemporary vellum binding with small holograph ink title to spine. Covers soiled and scuffed, vellum rippling, front joint almost completely open, vellum backstrip peeling back, front hinge cracked, front board still firmly attached to binding strings, engraved title page and title page loose, holograph pen annotations on title page, pages lightly cockled, dampstains, soiling, foxing, frequent browning of pages, overall a good copy of a fantastic book. From the family of Maureen O'Sullivan Farrow.
    Please visit HA.com/6117 for an extended description of this lot.


    More Information:

    "In Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae Kircher discusses the sources of light and shadow. The work deals especially with the sun, moon, stars, and planets. Kircher also treats phenomena related to light, such as optical illusions, color and refraction, projection and distortion, comets, eclipses, and instruments that use light, such as sundials and mirrors. He theorizes about the type of mirror supposed to have been used by Archimedes to set Roman ships afire, drawing from notes of his own experiments performed in the harbor of Syracuse. The work includes one of the first treatises on phosphorus and fireflies. Here Kircher also published his depictions of Saturn and Jupiter as he observed them through a telescope in Bologna in 1643. On that occasion he observed that the planets were neither perfectly round nor self-luminous, contrary to the popular Aristotelian belief that they are perfect, unchanging spheres. Kircher takes a great interest in sundials and mirrors in this book, and several interesting engravings are of fanciful sundials.... Kircher also discusses an odd ancestor of the modern projector: a device called the 'magic lantern,' of which he is generally, though erroneously, considered the inventor." [Brian Merrill, Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680).BYU Cat.]

    "Kircher certainly did some kind of natural magic, In his Ars magna lucis et umbrae...there is a section on 'Magia lucis et umbrae'; this magic is described as, not a diabolic, but a natural magic. The section concludes with the ecstatic chapters on Pseudo-Dionysius and Trismegistus on light which is somewhat reminiscent of similar developments of light themes in Patrizi." [Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition.] 

    "He gives the first printed picture of Saturn, whose rings he seems to have perceived as two small ellipses flanking the planet, and of Jupiter with two versions of its markings as he saw them through a telescope in Bologna in 1643." [Joscelyn Godwin, Kircher.]

    STCN 167102. Dunnhaupt 7.2. Caillet 5770. Ferguson I,466. Graesse IV,21. Brunet III,666. Poggendorf I, 1259. Sommervogel IV, 1050. Liebermann & Wahl 937. Frizot, Photography, 17ff. Harvey, Luminescence, 103ff.



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    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    8th-9th Wednesday-Thursday
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