Friday, August 31, 2007

Museum Gottwaldianum

garland of flowers

wunderkammer showroom

2 sets of medical instruments

gastro-intestinal system

turtle anatomy without organs

turtle anatomy with organs

sea shells

nautilus shell

3 shells


fish and squid


beaver skull

moths and butterflies

nautilus lamp

detail of swine
"Christoph Gottwald(t) (1636-1700) was a German physician in Danzig and created one of the largest cabinets of curiosities of his time. His collection was purchased by Tsar Peter the Great together with the famous collections of Seba and Ruysch. Like more of Gottwald's works, publication was realized long after the author's death when the publisher Raspe purchased the manuscripts."

Gottwald commissioned the Polish baroque painter, Daniel Schultz the Younger, to render drawings he made himself of the contents of his wunderkammer into engravings, which was undertaken in about 1665. A handwritten inventory of the shells, anatomical specimens and marine creatures accompanied the engravings in a 1714 compendium of which only three copies were made. The copper plates were obtained by Raspe, a conchology enthusiast, and a German version of the 'Museum Gottwaldianum' first appeared in 1782.

The illustrations above come from one of the original 1714 prints and are online at the University of Strasbourg (huge images available). There are perhaps forty further plates - many of them shells or anatomical deformities. There is little in the way of background information online. See: i, ii, and a review of conchological literature [link updated Oct '08] by Peter S Dance [pdf], courtesy of the Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. [previously]

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Stark Masonic Theosophy

handwritten frontispiece - physica, metaphysica, hyperphysica

magickal schematic x 2

kabbalistic schema

kabbalistic schema (detail)

figura cabbalistica

instrumentum fiat natura

transmutation schematic

mysterium magnum studium universale

allegorical alchemical motif

instrumentum divinum - alchemy symbols

celestial configurations for metal transmutation

alchemy model

Johann August Starck [Stark] (1741–1816) was a Professor of both oriental languages and theology in St Petersburg, Königsberg and (mostly) Darmstadt. He was a prolific author, particularly noted for his studies of comparative religions.

Starck joined the Freemasons in France when he was about twenty years old. The story goes that when he was in Russia he met with a Rosicrucian who had been closely acquainted with a founder of a Masonic Lodge in Florence in the early 18th century. The founder was a collector of ancient manuscripts and that Lodge became a centre for Rosicrucian, alchemy and theosophical discussion and enquiry. Secret knowledge divined from the 11th century Knights Templar, as laid out in the manuscripts, greatly contributed to the founding of Hermetic traditions within the developing Masonic fraternity in Germany.

Starck appears to have been what you might call a significant player in German Freemasonry as a direct result of his being exposed to the Florentine teachings. He was a leader of a faction (oh yes, Life of Brian correspondences seem appropriate) called the Klerkikat which joined with the existing Knights Templar order of Freemasons, the Strict Observance, but a schism eventually developed due to Starck's peculiar brand of Masonic beliefs. He was accused of being a Catholic and became quite an unpopular figure despite his receiving plum academic and civil appointments (he was a colleague and friend of philosopher Immanuel Kant). Apparently many of the ideas formulated or advocated by Starck persist into modern day Freemasonry.

One of the more notable subjects of his authorship appeared in the 1803 book, 'Triumph of Philosophy', in which Starck:

"claimed that the Illuminati, a freemasonry group founded by Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830) in 1776, stood behind the French revolution and were secretly pursuing similar lawless and godless schemes in German lands and elsewhere."
How does any of these conspiracy and esoteric shenanigans relate to the intriguing images in this post? The simple answer is: I'm not really sure. They appear in three manuscripts recently uploaded by Wolfenbütteler Digitale Bibliothek and all are attributed to Johann August Starck (or at least, they are listed under his name as author). It would seem they are either copies of, or notes and symbols dervied from, the renowned 'Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer' (Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians) from the late 18th century.

-Ms. Cod. Guelf. 454 Nov.
-Ms. Cod. Guelf. 455 Nov.
-Ms. Cod. Guelf. 456 Nov.

As you might imagine, background research about this topic is apt to lead a person to some 'interesting' websites to say the least, where everything from the world bank, Cagliostro and the twin towers make an appearance. Consequently I'm only going to recommend the Starck biography in the Immanuel Kant teaching site at Manchester College. Anyone with a deeper interest in all of this has already gone off on their own searching quests no doubt. Related: alchemy/'La Très Sainte Trinosophie'.

Monday, August 27, 2007


2 medieval flags
[There are five web pages of scans from the original manuscript at the Lithuanian Trade Union of Customs Personnel site]
"'Banderia Prutenorum' is a manuscript made by Jan Dlugosz (1415-1480) containing 56 images of flags captured from the Teutonic Knights by the Polish after the battle of Tannenberg (15 July 1410, Grunwald, nowadays in Poland) and designed in 1448 by the Polish painter Stanislao Durink."

UPDATE (Sept. 2009): this book has now been digitised by SLUB Dresden.

flourished calligraphic letters

Ornamental letter 'x'

'The Scribal Pattern Book' (MS. 439) from ~1515 by master calligrapher Gregorius Bock is an outstanding textual manuscript and if you only look at one thing from this post, go to Yale's Beinecke Library database and type in "ms. 439". Bock presents the alphabet in a number of different scripts together with decorative initials. See: a short descriptive table of contents and an intriguing paper from 1994 by Susan Laflin about using Bock's work as a basis for computer reading of gothic text.

sketch of ceiling hanging displays

From: 'The life and work of Sir Basil Spence 1907-76: architecture, tradition and modernity' project site at the University of Warwick History of Art Department.

facial expressions

"'The Theatrical Speaker; Or an Elucidation of the Whole Science of Acting', 1807 pub. Smeeton folding engraved plate."

18th cent. male/female costumes

'Zur Geschichte der Kostume' {Costume History} [c.1890]

anatomical sketches

Two plates from 'Anatomia Corporis Humani' by Pierre Dionis, 1696. Although they're not very sophisticated, I'm apt to collect any anatomical drawings from history if they don't appear to be online in any medical history sites. Very tangentially, I came across Michael Stolberg's long but interesting article, 'A Woman Down to Her Bones - The Anatomy of Sexual Difference in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries' [IN: Isis, volume 94 (2003), pages 274–299] which belongs as much to gender studies as it does to the history of medicine. LINK (click 'html').

medieval ship and King with swords

2 knights on horseback jousting

"'Effigies and Arms of Kings, Bannerets, and Knights in the Time of King Henry the Sixth', mid 19th c - Ms4205 Larleian Lib Brit Mus."

closeup of eye made out of building labyrinth

© Peter Lazarov - (from) A Selection of Engravings 2003 The third volume of the 'Endgrains Editions'.

anthropomorphic printing press

'The Man Wots Got the Whip Hand of 'Em All' by William Heath, 1820.
After going to some not inconsiderable trouble to remove the watermark and upload this image, I found a better quality unblemished version here [at the excellent Calisphere site at the University of California]

The above seven images were found trawling through the back catalogues at PBA Rare Book Galleries ('browse catalogues') - they have reasonable sized images [mostly not watermarked].

allegory of scientists before God

"Enric Cristòfor Ricart i Nin Montserrat's Apotheosis I xylography engraving on box"

bullfighting etching

"Ismael Smith i Marí Hormigón I, 1919 (Bullfighting) etching drypoint"

stooped old 'gnome' with deer head crown

"Joan Vila i Moncau Fantasy etching"

fantasy hat made of a village

"Joan Vila i Moncau Woman's head with cap, which is a village"

abstract overlapping shapes

"Joan Vilacasas Quasar astrometry etching aquatint - abstraction"

The above images come from Biblioteca de Montserrat: 'Gravadors Catalans del Segle XX' - it's a nice print exhibition site (in english).

2 spiral staircases in a library

print of books on a shelf

library scene sketch


bookshelf print

The above images are all copyright Professor Rolf Escher.
If you read German it will help. Although there is not a lot of material that I could find and nor are the images as large as we'd like, Escher makes wonderful prints of actual libraries (and books, bags and some other things). I know he has published some books too but I didn't collect the details. Home site; Essen; Kunstdunst.

meteorolgy instruction sketch

comparative planet sizes

(Representation of the Comparative Sizes of the Planets)

"'Astronomischer Bilder-Atlas' is a collection of engraved plates published sometime around 1870 by W. Nitzschke of Stuttgart, Germany. They are a German translation of a set first published in England by James Reynolds in 1850." At the independent Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering and Technology, Missouri.

microscopic illustration of an ant

This picture of an ant is (said to be) from one of the rarest scientific books of the 17th century. 'Micrographia Nova' [1687] was the response by Johann Griendel to the landmark Robert Hooke treatise, 'Micrographia' from 1655. Griendel's improvements to the microscope provided a greater field of vision and it was the first German book devoted to the microscope. The image comes from the University of Oklahoma Libraries History of Science Collection and the whole book (in photocopy quality) is available at Kurt Stuber's wonderful online library. See also: Microscopy books at the Gemmary. {Info. from the Digital Clendening}

allegorical picture of optics and heavens

I didn't really find anything much out about this homage to optics other than it is by Zacharias Traber from 1690, also at Oklahoma's History of Science Collection.

opera character sketch

"Pan Zdanowicz w roli Pigułki w operze Szarlatan" by Jan Ligber, sometime before 1814 and somewhere in the Polona site.

alchemy laboratory

Bearing an uncanny resemblance to the BibliOdyssey laboratory mid-blog post preparation, this image comes from a treatise by Johann Rudolph Glauber, a Dutch-German apothecary, alchemist and chemist. 'Opera Omnia Chymica' was published in 1651 but I can't remember where this image comes from. Glauber (1604-1670) was one of those true straddlers of the alchemy/chemistry world, believing in the Philosopher's Stone but also discovering Manganese and devising methods of producing nitric and sulphuric acids and fertilisers. (Galileo, wiki, alchemy)

opera scene poster

Opera advertisement from 1878 in the Trinity College of Music Mander & Mitchenson Theatre Collection (click 'The Catalogue' and then good luck: it's not a user friendly site)

dumb looking victorian-era fellow

"-m-yes Mums"
'Mr Wright (of the Theatre Royal Adelphi) as Tilly Slowboy in "The Cricket on the Hearth"' by Madeley 1847 also at Jerwood Library. Incidentally, Madeley did a couple of anthropomorphic characters in a previous post.

watercolour medieval soldier

watercolour medieval soldier (detail of face)

"Original watercolor signed by Gerasch; standing figure in military costume with cuirass, helmet, sword, leaning on staff of pike." c. 1580.

This image and detail come from a relatively new site (May '07) with an enormous quantity of military prints. 'Prints, Drawings & Watercolors from the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection' at Brown University seems to include their (already online) collection of Napoleonic prints but there is much more in here. We are slightly stymied due to there being no browsing feature ("a" returns >2000 prints), no metadata categories and although the prints are huge (click the detail above to see the size at highest resolution) the images can't be downloaded (try as I might). Consequently, the above images are spliced from many screencaps. Despite these perceived shortcomings, it is a formidable collection. {To be fair, this is an ongoing project and over 6000 prints will eventually become available)
Update: Peter, the Curator of the Military Collection, wrote to advise that you can now download low resolution images (they are about screen size).

Just a couple of other things..

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