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Athanasius Kircher (1602 - 1680)

Lot 270: KIRCHER, Athanasius (1602-1680). Ars magna lucis et umbrae. Rome: Lodovico Grignani for


June 8, 2005
London, United Kingdom

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KIRCHER, Athanasius (1602-1680). Ars magna lucis et umbrae. Rome: Lodovico Grignani for Hermann Scheus, 1646.

2 parts in one volume, 2° (293 x 197mm). Engraved additional title by Pierre Miotte. Title and part-title, both with woodcut vignettes. 36 engraved plates, 11 folding, and 4 full-page engraved tables printed on 2 leaves, woodcut illustrations and diagrams, some full-page, initials, ornaments and tailpieces, letterpress tables. (Variable light spotting and browning, occasional paper flaws, some light dampstaining, some plates slightly creased, tightly bound obscuring inner margins, or trimmed, additional title and a few plates with small tears or losses, some skilfully repaired, part-title misbound after 3Q3, bifolia 2Z2.3 and 6C2.3 misbound in reverse order, some sepage of edge-colouring onto lower margins, genitals of nude male figure obscured on one plate.) Modern half pigskin over patterned boards, gilt morocco lettering-piece, red edges. Provenance: Bolzano Reformed Friars Minor.

FIRST EDITION. In Ars magna lucis et umbrae Kircher sought parallels between the action of light and that of magnetism. Among the optical topics discussed and investigated by Kircher in this work are bioluminescence, the projection of sun- or candlelight onto mirrors painted in colours or through painted glass spheres, and the military use of mirrors by Archimedes to set fire to Roman ships (a phenomenon that Kircher thought probable). A second edition was published in Amsterdam in 1671. Brunet III, 666; Caillet 5770; NLM/Krivatsy 6396; Norman 1216; Sommervogel IV, 1050, no.9; Waller 11,385; Wellcome III, p.394.


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