One of the absolute must-see pieces at the upcoming show is Carlton Hobbs’ 18th century inlaid petite commode decorated with a selenographic diagram on the lower shelf (below). The diagram shows the phases of the moon as it is caused by the directions of the sun’s rays and the position of the moon as it orbits the earth. Selenography is the study of the surface and physical features of the Moon. Today, it is considered to be a sub-discipline of selenology, which itself is most often referred to as simply “lunar science.”
A 19th century example of selenography is this rare “hold to the light” plate – an illustration of the moon’s phases from a rare German celestial atlas by Ludwig Preyssinger (see below, from Philadelphia Print Shop West). Some of the atlas’ plates, including this one, have cutouts in the main map, with the chart backed by paper so that when the card is held up to the light the celestial features (stars and planets) can be seen shining through. These star charts are both historically interesting and visually striking.
This original antique celestial map from Asa Smith’s Illustrated Astronomy (below left, from Philadelphia Print Shop West) illustrates the difference between a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse. A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth passes between the moon and the sun, and the earth’s shadow obscures the moon or a portion of it. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, blocking all or a portion of the sun. Written by the principal of Public School No. 12 in 1856 in New York City, this work was aimed at school students. Smith stated his goal as “to present all the distinguishing principles in physical Astronomy with as few words as possible,” and his text was presented in fifty separate lessons with a series of questions and answers. The handsome charts of the planets and stars are printed predominantly in black, which makes the images as similar as possible to what one would actually see in the night skies.
On the right: an eerie visual parallel can be drawn with this 19th century rare and elegant lacquered wood shield from the Kha, mountain dweller people from Laos, from Patrick & Ondine Mestdagh.
Last year’s solar eclipse was beautifully captured by Jeffrey Conley in Totality, 8-21-2017, 10:17am, 2017 (on the right) – a platinum/palladium print available via Peter Fetterman Gallery. Such celestial phenomena may very well have been the inspiration for this dramatic 1930s Art Deco onyx and diamond ring from Kentshire (on the left).
The full moon is the lunar phase when the moon appears fully illuminated from earth’s perspective. This occurs when earth is located between the sun and the moon. The full moon occurs once roughly every month. On 14 November 2016, the full moon occurred closer to the Earth than it had been at any time for the previous 68 years, this phenomenon is called a supermoon.
On the left: Distinction in a Circle, by LeRone Wilson in encaustic and bee’s wax, 2017, from Guy Regal.
On the right: a white gold bombé ring of carved crystal with a pavé diamond underlay, in 18k, from Kentshire