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Elly Dekker, Peter H. Meurer and Renae Satterley:

Two celestial maps according to Albrecht Dürer by Johannes Noviomagus (Cologne 1537)

Cartographica Helvetica 42 (2010) 39–53


From 1532 to 1541, Johannes Noviomagus (c. 1509–1569) was a Latin teacher at the Gymnasium Montanum, which is a part of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Cologne. Among his many publications was a new edition (Cologne 1537) of the star catalogue of Ptolemy’s Almagest. The edition complies with the Latin translation by George Trapezuntius, but with newly computed stellar coordinates. The book title mentions the addition of illustrations showing 48 stellar constellations. However, two generations of bibliographers have been unable to trace a copy in which the illustrations are included. Only recently a complete copy has come to light at the Middle Temple Library in London.

The illustration consists of two woodcut maps of the northern and southern celestial hemispheres which are very similar to the two stellar maps by Albrecht Dürer from 1515. The woodcut work can be attributed to the famous Cologne artist Anton Woensam (1492/1500–1541); one of the preparatory sketches which is probably from his hand also exists. A detailed astronomical analysis of the two Cologne maps reveals many additions and corrections compared to Dürer's models. These adjustments are linked to the early work of the Cologne cartographer and instrumentmaker Caspar Vopelius (1511–1561). But many errors in revision and design suggest that the compilation was done by Noviomagus himself. Moreover, the two maps do not really match with Noviomagus' edition of the Almagest. In addition, the dedication to the influential dean Reinhard von Westerburg-Leiningen from Cologne contains a few typographical errors. The sum of these mistakes may explain why most copies of the book were brought onto the market without the maps.

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