Loading Spinner

Athanasius Kircher (1602 - 1680)

Lot 1150: KIRCHER, ATHANASIUS (1602-1680), S.J.


April 14, 2005
London, United Kingdom

More About this Item


Primitiae gnomonicae catoptricae hoc est horologiographiae novae specularis. Avignon: Jean Piot, 1635

Condition Note: 4to (210 x 160mm.), [12 (including engraved frontispiece)], 228, [16]pp., last leaf with privilege, illustration : engraved frontispiece, full-page engraved illustration entitled "horologium catoptricon" on p.142, woodcut diagrams, binding : contemporary English speckled calf, spine gilt in compartments, later morocco lettering-piece, some damp-staining and wormholes in first few quires, last leaf of preface slightly shaved and coming loose, engravings shaved, extremities rubbed

We are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described in our catalogue. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSION CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.


Houzeau & Lancaster 11442; Dünnhaupt/Kircher 2; Sommervogel IV, 1047

first edition. Kircher was sent from Lyon to Avignon in 1632, and described how he had the idea of decorating the blank walls of a tower at the Jesuit college there with pictures of the heavens, and of how there was a huge gap between the conception and its execution. Eventually by use of a small fragment of a mirror carefully positioned, he was able to reflect onto the internal walls of the building the light of both the sun and the moon so that "ipsius caeli iura legesque astrorum id invasisse diceres". The megacosm was reduced to a microcosm, plain for all to see. "For whatever the sun by day and the moon by night describes and shows in the heavens, so here below all was shown by means of the mirror, devised by a Promethean skill...". The liminary verses all bear witness to Kircher's ingenuity: "Cuncta haec monstrantur solis splendore reflexo, Doctos quem in muros specula fixa vibrant".

Request more information

Macclesfield Part 5 - Science I-O

April 14, 2005, 12:00 AM EST

London, United Kingdom