The Southern Hemisphere of the Celestial Globe (1515) by Albrecht Durer

The Southern Hemisphere of the Celestial Globe - Albrecht Durer - 1515

Artwork Information

TitleThe Southern Hemisphere of the Celestial Globe
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationBritish Museum, London, UK

About The Southern Hemisphere of the Celestial Globe

“The Southern Hemisphere of the Celestial Globe” is a woodcut artwork created by Albrecht Dürer in 1515, during the Northern Renaissance art movement. This design piece is part of the collection at the British Museum in London, UK. The woodcut illustrates the southern sky’s constellations as perceived during the early 16th century.

In this image, we see a circular depiction of the celestial globe, focusing on the southern hemisphere. The border of the circle is marked with divisions that likely represent degrees of celestial longitude. Within the circle, a variety of constellations are represented in a richly detailed and illustrative manner. They are embodied by mythological figures, animals, and objects that were traditionally used to symbolize the constellation patterns in the sky. For instance, we can see figures such as a bird (representing the constellation Phoenix) and the large fish (Pisces Australis).

The constellations are not drawn realistically but rather in a way that represents the imaginative and artistic interpretations of the stars from that time period. Latin text appears alongside some of the constellations, presumably naming and describing them. The text around the circle and within the clouds may include information about the creation of the woodcut or commentary on the constellations themselves.

Around the edges, apart from the constellations, various decorative elements are present. The upper left corner bears a coat of arms flanked by foliage, while the lower left and right corners have ornate scrollwork with Latin inscriptions, suggesting the involvement of particular patrons or possibly the artist’s signature. Clouds and wind-etched motifs at the bottom corners of the square border add to the overall decorative aesthetic characteristic of the Northern Renaissance period.

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