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Winter Auctions 19.–20.11.2021

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Athanasius Kircher
Obeliscus Pamphilius hoc est, interpretatio nova & hucusque intentata obelisci hieroglyphici [...]. Rome, Lodovico Grignani, 1650. With a frontispiece by C. Bloemaert after a draft by Giovanni Angelo Canini, the coat of arms and the portrait of Pope Innocent X, a folding copper plate depicting the obelisk, numerous woodcuts as well as some ornamental initials. 560 p. Not collated. Contemporary calf with embossed borders and reddish edges. In addition an opened, empty, handwritten inscribed envelope of the time.
H 32,6, W 23,4 cm.
As a Jesuit, polymath as well as founder and administrator of the cabinet of curiosities known as the «Museum Kircherianum», Athanasius Kircher (1602 - 1680) defined the intellectual landscape of baroque Rome in the 17th century. One of his many interests was the millennia-old culture and language of Egypt. In the city on the Tiber, he encountered the obelisks, stone witnesses to ancient Egyptian civilisation, covered with engraved hieroglyphs, whose translation the German-born «uomo universale» tried his hand at. Once stolen from the land of the Pharaohs for the glory of the Caesars to adorn the capital of the Roman Empire, these huge needles of granite largely toppled over the centuries and shaped the appearance of the papal city as shattered fragments. In his work «Obeliscus Pamphilius», Kircher describes the restored Obelisco Agonale, a monolithic colossus that in ancient times adorned the Circus of Emperor Domitian and dominates the Piazza Navona since 1649 as the magnificent pinnacle of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers.
Provenance: Library of the last Prince-Bishop of Basel Franz Xaver von Neveu (1749 - 1828); after his death it became private property of the family of Neveu, Durbach.

Condition report  


hammer price: 2000,- EUR
(starting price: 1200,- EUR)