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Astronomical work by Ferdinand Verbiest being auctioned

Verbiest at Discovering Belgium

Do you fancy purchasing a celestial treasure at an upcoming auction in London? You could be the owner of an extraordinary astronomical masterpiece crafted by the Flemish priest Ferdinand Verbiest. This rare work sheds light on Verbiest’s multifaceted role as a 17th-century Jesuit, renowned astronomer, teacher, and diplomat in the illustrious court of the Chinese emperor.

Highlighted previously on Discovering Belgium in my “Remarkable Belgians” series, Ferdinand Verbiest’s legacy comes to life in this two-volume masterpiece. They consist of intricate woodcuts on delicate Chinese paper, elegantly bound in golden yellow silk. They showcase Verbiest’s ingenious designs for astronomical instruments commissioned by the emperor. Additionally, the collection features captivating depictions of European marvels, including the compass and pulley mechanism.

Rare astronomical work by Ferdinand Verbiest is being auctioned at Christie’s

Conceived in 1673, these drawings mark a pivotal moment when Verbiest was appointed as the court astronomer by the Chinese emperor. His appointment was a result of surpassing local astronomers in astronomical knowledge – an essential skill in a nation where the emperor was revered as the “son of heaven.” As the head of the astronomical office, Verbiest annually compiled a calendar distributed across the vast empire.

Verbiest auction

These remarkable drawings, dispatched to Europe during Verbiest’s lifetime, served as tangible proof of the Jesuits’ esteemed position at the imperial court and their significant scientific contributions. In recognition of Verbiest’s dedication to the emperor, the Jesuits were granted permission for modest conversion efforts in China.

A rare astronomical work by Flemish astronomer Ferdinand Verbiest is being auctioned at Christie’s in London!

An astronomical price for an astronomical work!

Christie’s, the esteemed auction house, anticipates a bidding range of “£250,000 to £300,000” for this unparalleled piece of history.

Imagine gifting this extraordinary astronomical treasure as a Christmas present! An unparalleled opportunity to present your loved one with a piece of Verbiest’s legacy and the intersection of East and West in the realm of astronomy!

Stop press: no buyer found at first auction!

At the first auction yesterday (14 Dec 2023) no buyer was found. A new attempt could be made soon to find a buyer – so you still have the opportunity!

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