A plaque with a flower festoon above a table by Dirck van Rijswijck
Signed, lower right, in hanging shield: Dirck van Rÿswÿck invenit et f This hitherto unpublished plaque by Dirck van…
A fine and rare terrestrial globe, containing a slightly smaller celestial sphere, both unsigned, each made up of two engraved hemispheres joined by screw thread at the equator.
The terrestrial globe is based on a world map by Henricus Hondius, from 1630 (Nova Orbis Geographica ac Hydrographica Tabvla) and finely engraved with a depiction of the world, the interior is lined with red velvet and when unscrewed enclosing the silver-gilt engraved celestial globe. The geography of the terrestrial sphere with Western Australia and the Western coast of New Zealand drawn in, California marked as an island, and Cuba as a peninsula connected to Central America, and with various names of seas and oceans as well as other regional names on the land spelled in Latin, five variant merchant vessels and East-India-Men between. The names used on the terrestrial globe are somewhat archaic, using a.o. Oceanus Aethiopicus, Africa with names such as Benamataxa, Dancali, Hoden and Avaman. The celestial sphere has a depiction of some of the principal stars, the astrological figures of the Zodiac, albeit without their names.
Known to have existed in classical times and still being made for a mass market, globes represent the oldest continuous technique for picturing the Earth and heavens. Originally aids for philosophy, The Renaissance saw their development as compendia of rapidly expending geographical and astronomical knowledge, and as instruments of navigation and cosmography. They were produced as simple spheres and as sophisticated mechanical devices, as toys and as high-status furniture; used as classroom and other demonstrational tools and as a symbol in the art of many periods. Until the onset of modern industrial techniques, their manufacture as plaster, wood and metal spheres was complex and laborious, and the skills required for their graphic construction and publication no less so.
Throughout the centuries globes and armillary spheres have served as models or analogies to nature for the edification of men and as such acted as bridges between natural science and popular culture. In this process they were often recognised as symbols of science in the arts. It is clear that the study of globes and armillary spheres cannot be approached from the same perspective as some of the more theoretical topics generally preferred by the historian who studies science. Most of these historians have occupied themselves with the differences between one theory and another. No doubt much can be learned this way, and moreover, the squabbles among the proponents of opposing theories provide the historian with a ready and welcome drama. Such drama is not to be expected in the study of globes, since they served mainly to explain and solve astronomical and cosmological problems arising from phenomena observed from a geocentric perspective.
The fact that the celestial globe is enclosed in the terrestrial globe must have symbolic reason. One should find heaven on earth.
Astronomy was enabled by knowledge of arithmetic and geometry, then considered “the wings of the human mind.” Old celestial globes very directly show the progressive knowledge of the stars. Despite their limits use, new ideas about the configuration of the world and the sky were spread by means of globes, which reached more than just specialists in geography and astronomy.
In addition there is their value as art history objects, for instance, the illustrations of the constellations on celestial globes is often executed by very artistic and capable hands.
Not until the mobile phone and advent of Google Earth would there be an instrument that so neatly epitomized the globe and the heavens in the palm of your hand.
It is clear that the combined cultural, historical and decorative value has made globe pairs such as the present essential in illustrating the history of science and explorations throughout the ages.
Other terrestrial globes in silver, datable to the late 16th/early 17th– century and in the tradition of François Demongenet, are in the collection of the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, inventory n°s GLBO119 and GLBO120.
Private collection, New York until 2018
E.L. Stevenson, Terrestrial and Celestial Globes, Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 1921;
Peter C.J. van der Krogt, Old globes in the Netherlands, Hes & de Graaf Publishers, Utrecht, 1985;
Elly Dekker, Globes at Greenwich, A Catalogue of the Globes and Armillary Spheres in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999, p. 3
Unmarked, Low Countries, 1630-1640
Ø Terrestrial globe 5.9 cm, Celestial globe 5.0 cm.