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Nova Reperta: Invention of the Compass (Lapis Polaris Magnes)

PAF7103

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Collection
Gallery locationNot on display

Object details:

Object ID PAF7103
Description Plate 2. This plate illustrates Flavio Amalfitano seated at a desk in a large room using a compass. He is measuring a compass whilst reading a book. A globe and an hourglass can also be seen on his desk and a dog sits by his feet. Opposite Amalfitano, a model of a sailing ship hovers midair above another desk covered with books and an astrolabe globe. A large container filled with liquid and a stone at the centre occupies the left foreground of the scene. Inscriptions in Latin. In margin: '2. LAPIS POLARIS MAGNES', 'Lapis reclusit iste Flavio abditum', 'Poli suum hunc amorem, at ipse navitae.'. On image: 'Ion.Stradanus Invent.', 'Phls. Galle excud.'. As the title indicates, Nova Reperta catalogues inventions and discoveries in the 'modern' world (as opposed to the classical world of antiquity). The print series dates to the 1590s and probably emerged in two distinct phases. During the late 16th century scientists were starting to break free from the constraints that had hitherto been imposed by the unchallenged authority of the classical writers. It commemorates both Italian and Northern achievements, comprised of a title page and nineteen figurative representations. As a set, it dates between 1580 and 1605. It seems to have been started as a set focusing on America, but soon expanded and can now be grouped into four themes (according to Alice Bonner McGinty's scholarship):: 1. Discovery of America – Vespucci, magnet, venereal infection, longitude, astrolabe 2. Conquest of matter and motion – gunpowder, iron clocks, distillation, stirrups, watermill, windmill, polishing armour 3. Rationalisation of agriculture – silk, olive oil, sugar refining 4. Mechanisation of words and image – printing books, oil paint, spectacles, copper engraving. The Nova Reperta was designed by Johannes Stradanus. Born in Bruges in 1523, Stradanus was a versatile, 16th-century mannerist artist who worked across a range of mediums and spent most of his artistic career in Florence. The set is dedicated to Italian humanist Luigi Alamanni, who belonged to an old aristocratic Florentine family. He was not only the dedicatee of the set, but was clearly intellectually involved in their production and likely assumed the role of artistic mentor, commenting on details as drawings were sent between Antwerp and Florence. Evidence of Almanni's influence on the series can be seen in his annotations on the backs of some of Stradanus's drawings. Furthermore much of the icongraphy relates to Florentine subjects. Alamanni had drawings in his possession suggesting he may also have been financially involved. Much information in Nova Reperta was probably gleaned from texts in his library.  We know the names of two of the engravers who worked on this project in the workshop of Philips Galle. His son Theodoor Galle signed the engraving Vespucci rediscovers America. Jan Collaert's name appears on three of the plates: 15,17,18 and four other plates have also been attributed to him: 1,2,12,16.
Date made c. 1580-1605

Artist/Maker Stradanus, Johannes
Galle, Phillips
Place made Antwerp, Antwerpen, Flanders, Belgium
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials engraving
Measurements Sheet: 218 x 285 mm; Mount: 406 mm x 559 mm
Parts
  • Nova Reperta: Invention of the Compass (Lapis Polaris Magnes) (PAF7103)
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