Glorious Globes: Two 17th Century Painted Globes

Two Globes crafted by G.J. Blaeu (1571-1638) were transferred in the Paper Restoration Lab in 2008 to be painstakingly restored.  One is the globe of the earth while the other shows the 48 constellations as cited by Ptolemy. The two papier-mâché globes are covered in painted incised paper. See the pictures of the process needed to restore them here.

Blaeu was a student of famous astronomer Tycho Brahe, and made the artistry of globes and maps his whole life.  In 1599, he founded a printing press dedicated to the manufacturing of globes,  as well as nautical and scientific instruments. In 1625, he founded the Blaviana Office in Amsterdam, the official map maker for the Indian Company. His most famous work is the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum sive Atlas Novus, published in two volumes in 1635 was reprinted many times until 1655. One interesting facet of the pieces, two globes were continually “updated” with copper as new discoveries were made.

In the Diagnostic Lab, the globes was analyzed through reflectography, photographic documentation with UV fluorescence, analysis of the pigments and stratigraphic analysis.  Restorers studied the components order to define typology and to identify the process and technique with which it was assembled. There are few documents about these globes, so they had to collecting information on other similar globes located in Museums in Bologna and Florence in order to track down the history of these beautiful works of art. Thank you to our California Chapter for helping us to keep preserve treasures like these.

Antonio Paolucci, Director of the Vatican Museums, in the restoration labs with the Blaeu Globes

Antonio Paolucci, Director of the Vatican Museums, in the restoration labs with the Blaeu Globes