Saturday, May 26, 2012

Antonino Saliba 1582

The only known example of the Jollain/De Jode edition of Saliba’s map of the cosmos, integrating ancient Pagan and medieval Christian cosmology with Renaissance beliefs and experiences. It presents the universe as a place that is simultaneously ordered and chaotic, spiritual and temporal, familiar and fantastical. Originally published in Italian by Antonino Saliba in 1582, the map was later reissued in Latin by Cornelis de Jode in slightly modified format (lacking one of the nine rings). The De Jode edition shows eight concentric rings, from the inner ring depicting the infernal regions to an encircling ring of fire, populated by demons, phoenixes and salamanders. The fourth ring is a hemispheric map on a north-polar projection, derived from de Jode’s 1593 Hemispheriu Ab Aequinoctiali Linea. . . (Shirley 184). Within the spandrels are decorative images and text describing solar and lunar eclipses. The diagram is surmounted by a title with flanking hemispheric maps—also on a polar projection—and adorned with the strap-work embellishments characteristic of late-16th century Dutch engraving. Whitfield’s notes that this cosmological chart, which appears so bizarre and unfamiliar, is in fact only mildly unorthodox as a pre-scientific image of the cosmos…. The work’s title promises to display ‘All things which are in the world and in the heavens, for the universal benefit of all who would know the occult secrets of nature…. It is in the eighth circle [the seventh in the Jollain issue] that Saliba’s unorthodoxy and occultism are given freest rein. The appearance in 1577 of a great comet… was, inevitably, interpreted as having prophetic significance. Saliba seems to have regarded this so seriously that the eighth circle is devoted largely to descriptions of comets, their historic appearances and occult significance. The cosmic model of concentric rings was derived from Aristotle and Ptolemy, which in modified forms prevailed until the seventeenth century. The Ptolemaic model comprised nine spheres around the earth: five planets, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the primum mobile…. Saliba’s departure from the classical content of the nine spheres while retaining the structure, is entirely typical of the fluid state of Renaissance science. The spheres of the sun, moon, stars and planets must be conceived as compressed into the eighth sphere [seventh in the Jollain] dominated by the comet; this is Saliba’s most unconventional step. The depiction of the ninth heaven as a circle of empyrean fire reflects the Renaissance hermetic reverence for fire as the purifying principle, through which nature could be transformed and made to yield her secrets….Saliba was attempting here a subject at the limits of possible visualization: the difficulty of projecting an image of the cosmos clearly exceeded even those of projecting the world map.’ The engraving is flanked by two-column text panels in French, describing the diagram in detail. The description employs a numeric key linked to numbered items in the engraving. The first edition of this map was issued in Italian by Antonio Saliba in 1582. The Herzog August Bibliothek (Niedersachsen, Germany) possesses the only recorded example. In 1593 Cornelis de Jode issued a second edition in Latin, of which no examples are known. Shirley also cites re-issues of the de Jode edition by Paul de la Houve (ca. 1600), Jean Messager (ca. 1640), Pierre Mariette (ca. 1640) and Gerard Jollain (ca. 1681), all based on the de Jode edition. There is only one recorded example of each of the four. Shirley, Mapping of the World, #146 (Saliba), 185 (de Jode et al.), and 226 (Schevenhuyse). Tooley, Map Collectors Circle, vol.1 no. 1, #25-26 (illustrating the de la Houve and Schevenhuyse issues). Whitfield, The Image of the World, p.70 (Saliba issue).

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