Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Mapping the Stars

This fascinating celestial map forms part of a collection of magnificent stellar maps from Jamieson’s Celestial Atlas.

Alexander Jamieson’s Celestial Atlas was an attempt to produce a British version of the highly popular atlases of Jean Fortin in France and Johann Bode in Germany. Unlike his predecessors Jamieson allowed himself more artistic freedom in the depiction of his figures and his illustrations are notibly more realistic and pleasing to the eye.

These scarce maps depict the constellations and the allergorical figures associated with them in incredible detail. In the substantial accompanying text Jamieson includes descriptions of the constellations and their orgins in ancient mythology as well as lists of the main stars with positions for the year 1820 and exercises for students.

Cancer. Plate XVI.
Jamieson, Alexander
Copper engraved
Image 179 x 224 mm, Plate 210 x 265 mm, Sheet 230 x 290 mm
Published, February 1, 1822, by G & W Whittakers, Ave Maria Lane, London

Cancer, the Crab, is the first of the Summer signs. According to the Greeks, Jupiter placed this crab among the signs of the zodiac; and it is further represented as the same which Juno sent to bite Hercules while he fought the Hydra in the lake of Lerna, in the Peloponnessus. In the zodiacs of Dendera we find Scarabaeus, or Beetle. In copying the Greeks have given us a crab.

(Description taken from the accompanying text in publication.)  

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