KIRCHER, Athanasius, S.J.
Folio: -66- pp. (light browning at margins of engr. title and last few ff., 2 pl. exp. repaired in orig. fold, sm. burn hole in 1 full-page pl.; normal toning, a few spots).
Contemp. sheep (expertly repaired with the orig. spine and covers present. Orig. piece of French written vellum strengthening the spine loosely added. With added photos of the original condition before repair), gilt spine with 6 raised bands. Good copy.
First and only edition of the description of the "Most celebrated Museum of the Roman College of the Society of Jesus", by A. Kircher (1602-1680). Illustrated with a spectacular engr. title showing the Museum, the author's portrait, 17 impressive engr. plates (of which 9 folding) showing a reproduction of the "Nestorian stele" (orig. publ. in his "China Illustrata", 1667) and many Egyptian obelisks, and 21 text engravings and woodcuts, showing i.a. Kircher's "magnetic dove", a magic lantern, optical devices, hydraulic and magnetic clocks, coins and several animals such as a crocodile, an armadillo and a rhinoceros.
Kircher collected models of obelisks, artefacts, classical antiquities, natural history specimen, "modern" scientific instruments as well as his own inventions for his research and as visual material for his teachings as Professor at the Roman Collegio. It became a spectacular "cabinet of curiosities", well worth the visit. "[...] his museum [...] was a meeting ground for different visions of the world, as much as it also expressed Kircher’s unique outlook on the state of knowledge [...]. The growing popularity of the museum and his tireless efforts to promote his work through a steady stream of publications contributed to his reputation as a man who seemed to know absolutely everything [...]. Kircher created scientific spectacles designed to please everyone. For scholars, he offered the pursuit of knowledge; for princes, an approved pastime to fill their leisure. For the curious patricians who secured the appropriate letters of introduction, Kircher promised a display that would satisfy the most theatrical sensibilities." (Findlen).
Ref. DBS IV:1076. - Caillet 5784. - STCN (i.a. BL). - Findlen, P. - "Scientific Spectacle in Baroque Rome: Athanasius Kircher and the Roman College Museum", in Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters (MIT Press, 2003).
Prov. "J.H. Eyben" & "Bamps notaire" (old ownership entries at front flyleaf and title).
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