This is the frontispiece of Robert Fludd’s Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica atque technical historia, Oppenheim: 1617-1619.
Wayne Shumaker provides a detailed description in his Occult Sciences in the Renaissance:
“ …The outer three circles, which contain symbols that represent cherubim, seraphim, and archangels, surround the sphere of the fixed stars, the sphere of the planets, and two additional spheres of fire and air. At the top, God’s hand holds a chain which descends to the figure of a nude virgin, Nature, pictured with starry hair in order to prevent identification as a pagan goddess. From her left hand, in turn, the chain descends to an ape, a symbol for Art; along the chain God’s powers and effects are transmitted. Nature guides the primum mobile and turns the fixed stars (the draftsman has found no pictorial equivalents of these functions); also, influences from the fixed stars pass through her hands to generate material substances, and the planets act as marculi, or “little hammers”, to produce earthly metals. Although pictured on one of her breasts, the sun is Nature’s heart, and her belly is filled with the moon’s body (corpore lunari repletur). The life and vitality of elemental creatures are born from her breast, which also feeds (lactat) the creatures constantly. The earth under Nature’s right foot stands for sulphur, the water under her left foot for mercury; the joining of these through her body symbolizes their union in whatever is generated or grows. The ape, Art, is “born from man’s talents” and helps Nature by means of secrets learned from diligent observation of her ways. The seven innermost circles represent animals, vegetables, minerals, the “more liberal arts”, “Art Supplementing Nature in the Animal Kingdom”, “Art Helping Nature in the Vegetable Kingdom”, and “Art Correcting Nature in the Mineral Kingdom”. The animals shown are, on the right, the fish, the snail, the eagle, and woman; on the left, the dolphin, the snake, the lion, and man. In the same order, the vegetables are flowers and roots, wheat; trees, grapes. The minerals are sal ammoniac, orpiment (Mercurial), copper (Venereal), and silver (Lunar); talc (if taleum is a mistake for talcum, glossed by Ruland as a “transparent, brilliant material – again Lunar), antimony, (Jovial), lead (Saturnian), gold (Solar). The more liberal arts are fortification, painting, perspective, geometry, music, arithmetic; motion, time, cosmography, astrology, geomancy. (The usual list included grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy). The arts which supplement or otherwise assist r correct nature are the following: in the animal kingdom, medicine, egg production, bee-culture, sericulture; in the vegetable kingdom, tilling and tree-grafting; in the mineral kingdom, distillation by means of retorts and distillation by means of cucurbits (gourd shaped vessels).”
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