Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Secret Rosicrucian Symbols

cruce rosea

scala philosophorum cabalistica magia

spiritus sanctus

tabula smargadina hermetis


magia lucifer

inugfrau sophia

mysterium magnum

natura elementa

mons philosophorum

iesus lucifers

etubique bene radix davidis

hermetische philosophie

figura cabalistica

The ever excellent University of Wisconsin Digital Library has recently posted 'Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer, aus dem 16ten und 17ten Jahrhundert' ('Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians from the 16th and 17th Centuries') to their History of Science and Technology subsite. It was published in 1785-1788. There are multiple format page images available (click 'display gallery view').

Adam McLean tells us:

"This 18th century compendium, drew on 17th century alchemical sources such as Adrian von Mynsich, with mystical pieces from Valentin Weigel, and Abraham von Franckenberg's works on Jacob Boehme. It was an important and influential source of Rosicrucian ideas, albeit filtered through an 18th century perspective."
Adam has posted translations from a selection of images.

Marvellous stuff. Thanks Steven!

[Wikipedia has an extensive set of links if you want to get your hermetic golden rosey alchemy dawn cross cabala on - the actual article, like the subject matter itself, is ambiguous and dense by turns: any secrets revealed remain fairly opaque for the great majority of us I venture to suggest. But the symbols hold an enduring fascination.]

Friday, November 10, 2006

North Africa 1860

Reise in Nordost Africa titlepage

Der blaue Fluss unweit Bedûs [Dâr Rosêres.]

'Der blaue Fluss unweit Bedûs [Dâr Rosêres.]'


Zerîbah [Wohnung] des Melek Regeb - Adlân zu Hellet - Idrîs am Gebel - Ghûle.
'Zerîbah [Wohnung] des Melek Regeb -
Adlân zu Hellet - Idrîs am Gebel - Ghûle.'

Urdu [El - Ordeh]- Neu Donqolah, Den 28 sten Maerz 1860.
'Urdu [El - Ordeh]- Neu Donqolah, Den 28 sten Maerz 1860.'

Suq-ê - Rumelîeh zu Cairo.
'Suq-ê - Rumelîeh zu Cairo.'

Steppe Zwischen Dabbeh und Khartûm.
'Steppe Zwischen Dabbeh und Khartûm.'

Karane des Freiherrn Adalbert von Barnim Inderwuste des Batn - el -Hágar. [Nubien.]
'Karane des Freiherrn Adalbert von Barnim
Inderwuste des Batn - el -Hágar. [Nubien.]'

Landschaft in Dâr - Rosêres.
'Landschaft in Dâr - Rosêres.'

Junge Fellahîn - Hirten bei Beni - Hasan.
'Junge Fellahîn - Hirten bei Beni - Hasan.'

Ghawazi, Arabische Tänzerinnen.
'Ghawazi, Arabische Tänzerinnen.'

Begräbnifsstätte des Freiherrn A. von Barnim zu Rosêres.
'Begräbnifsstätte des Freiherrn A. von Barnim zu Rosêres.'

Felsentempel bei Abu - Simbil.
'Felsentempel bei Abu - Simbil.'

Das Thal des oberen blauen Flusses vom Gebel - Fezoghlu aus Gesehen.
'Das Thal des oberen blauen Flusses vom Gebel - Fezoghlu aus Gesehen.'

These images come from 'Reise in Nordost Africa' (Journey in North Africa) in which the Prussian Baron Adalbert was accompanied by the physician Robert Hartmann on an expedition centred around the blue Nile river in 1859-1860.

Their journey took them to Egypt, Sudan and Nubia and both Adalbert and Hartmann produced the artwork which was later rendered into these beautiful lithographs in Berlin where the book was published in 1863. There are 3 pages of thumbnail images at NYPL.

Adalbert died during the trip and search results are a little ambiguous for Hartmann - he seems to have written further anthropology papers about the peoples of Nubia. There is a 4 page 1863 journal review of 'Reise in Nordost Africa' available as a pdf from this page - but it's in german and they are page images so I couldn't copy them into a translator. There is a small amount of information at this translated page (under 'Barnim'). [I've cleaned up a fair amount of age related damage to the above images]

Butterfly People

Traveller by the Side of the Road

Traveller by the Side of the Road

Lady of the Butterflies
Lady of the Butterflies

The Traveller's Route
The Traveller's Route

The Lama Strolls
The Lama Strolls

She Hovers in the Air
She Hovers in the Air

The Bolero
The Bolero

Everything Begins and Ends With Marriage
Everything Begins and Ends With Marriage

Vestal Virgin from Rio Colorado
Vestal Virgin from Rio Colorado

Burning Wings Too Close to the Flames of Love
Burning Wings Too Close to the Flames of Love

Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree


Pierre Amédée Varin (1818-1883) [obit.] was the eldest of three engraver brothers from the Champagne region of France. He came from a long family line of artist/engravers that stretched back to the 17th century [Jean Varin]. Most of his engraving work was done in partnership with his brother, Eugene.

The anthropomorphic illustrations above come from a 2-volume set: 'Papillons - Metamorphoses Terrestres Des Peuples De L'Air', published by Gabriel de Gonet in 1852. It will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the illustrations of JJ Grandville to learn that Varin had contributed some engraving work to Grandville's 1843 classic, 'Les Fleurs Animées'.

I saw no real mention of the nature of the text (by Eugene Nus and Antony Meray) that accompanied Varin's 35 hand coloured steel engravings - no doubt suitably odd, what with the inclusion of Chinese and American Indian motifs with the butterfly characters. Varin also published another outlandish anthropomorphic book, in ~1851: 'L’Empire des Légumes', which portrays people as vegetables. (Some more conservative images)

From what I can divine, both of these books are exceedingly rare so it was sheer luck that I discovered a fair number of plates from both have been recently posted at Panteek Prints. Butterflies and Vegetables (also).

Most of the above images (background cleaned and watermark eviscerated) do come from Panteek, but a few were found at Shigitatsu and here.

The illustration below ['The Fairy Queen'] has nothing to do with Varin but it's in the same imagery ballpark and I've been holding the link for a while. There are a number of illustrations from 'In Fairy Land. A series of pictures from the elf-world by Richard Doyle. With a poem by W. Allingham' 1870, at the British Library.

The Fairy Queen

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Heidelberg Schlossgarten

Hortus PalatinusThis famous 1620 engraving of 'Hortus Palatinus', (referred to as
the eighth wonder of the world at one stage) is by Matthäus Merian.
  • A painting based on Merian's engraving, by Jacques Foucières.
  • This photo is a recent vague approximation of the same view.
  • Merian is also said to have made another engraving of Heidelberg Castle in 1645 which *I think* is from the opposite direction.1
  • 1815 painting by Carl Philipp Fohr.

"Out of a billowy upheaval of vivid green foliage, a rifle-shot removed, rises the huge ruin of Heidelberg Castle, with empty window arches, ivy-mailed battlements, moldering towers—the Lear of inanimate nature—deserted, discrowned, beaten by the storms, but royal still, and beautiful. It is a fine sight to see the evening sunlight suddenly strike the leafy declivity at the Castle's base and dash up it and drench it as with a luminous spray, while the adjacent groves are in deep shadow.

Behind the Castle swells a great dome-shaped hill, forest-clad, and beyond that a nobler and loftier one. The Castle looks down upon the compact brown-roofed town; and from the town two picturesque old bridges span the river. Now the view broadens; through the gateway of the sentinel headlands you gaze out over the wide Rhine plain, which stretches away, softly and richly tinted, grows gradually and dreamily indistinct, and finally melts imperceptibly into the remote horizon.

I have never enjoyed a view which had such a serene and satisfying charm about it as this one gives." [Mark Twain - 'A Tramp Abroad' - 1880]

Hortus Palatinus titlepage

zoo wall

wall fountain

man fountain

walled fountain

women and animal water fountain

women and fish water feature

fountain mountain

heidelberg grotto

fountain designs

garden design

garden wall

column designs heidelberg

Heidelberg Schloss (castle) is perched on a steep slope 80 metres above the Necker river in south west Germany. Sometime around the end of the 14th century, Prince Elector Ruprecht III built a Royal residence on the site and construction continuted intermittently for the next 400 years. Consequently the palace, which evolved into a fort and then into a castle, contains medieval, baroque, renaissance and gothic architectural elements among its remaining structures.

The most significant building work was carried out in the 16th and 17th centuries, beginning (allegedly) with the transfer of columns to the site from a palace that had belonged to Charlemagne. But it was during the time of Prince Elector (and briefly, King) Frederick V that construction of the famed Schlossgarten (castle garden) was undertaken.

Salomon de Caus (1576-1626) was a french Huguenot exile who trained primarily as an architect and mathematician. His vocational output extended to geometry, astronomy/astrology and music but he developed into an hydraulic engineer after spending time in Florence with Bernardo Buontalenti at Pratolino at the end of the 16th century.

De Caus began designing wells, fountains and hydraulic automata in Belgium and then went to England in the service of the Prince of Wales. He completed several garden designs (some included in his 1612 book, 'La Perspective, Avec la Raison des Ombres et Miroirs') between educating the royal household in drawing techniques. His interest in waterworks expanded with trick fountains and elaborate ornamental water feature commissions, in which de Caus played a pivotal role in spreading the thematic elements of italian renaissance garden design to northern Europe.

After the death of the Prince of Wales de Caus moved to Heidelberg and employment under Prince Elector Frederick V. Soon afterwards, in 1615, he published his great hyrdraulic work, 'Les Raisons des Forces Mouvantes avec Diverses Machines', which gave rise to the proposition that de Caus had been the first to document a steam engine. (It's quite amusing seeing the different wording on this topic between the french (trans.) and english wikipedia accounts - doubtless it was a link in the chain of knowledge however)

De Caus spent 5 years designing and constructing the renowned hortus palatinus (palace garden) for the Prince Elector, which included grotto features and more of his elaborate water sculptures among the mannerist terrace layout. But the construction was never completed due to the interruption by the 30 year war which saw the 'winter King' Frederick flee the country. The garden and palace buildings were greatly damaged - not for the first or last time. Lightning strikes in the 16th and 18th centuries and various wars all contributed to the deterioration of the site, despite intermittent attempts at reconstruction. In the modern era, restoration of the central building was carried out at the beginning of the 20th century and vestiges of de Caus's garden motifs and the remains of the palace ruins are now preserved.

Creative Commons License