Robert Fludd was a seventeenth-century physician and philosopher who wrote an illustrated manifesto that addressed his philosophical theories of the universe, entitled The Technical, Physical and Metaphysical History of the Microcosm and Macrocosm of 1617-1626. Included in the text is a myriad of intricately-detailed engravings, including the engraving entitled The Mirror of the Whole of Nature and the Image of Art. This image directly follows the title page and summarizes his cosmological vision. Whereas several scholars have discussed Fludd’s writings in depth, none have discussed the engravings beyond briefly mentioning them in biographies or reducing them to mere translations of the included Latin text. Art, science, and religion combine to make up his singular vision in these illustrations. My goal is to examine his central print and demonstrate how The Mirror reflects more than a scientific theory. Instead, it also represents a spiritual ideology.
The Mirror depicts the whole universe as Fludd conceived of it. Nevertheless, the work portrays not only a map of the universe, but also a map to the inner soul, as Fludd believed that the soul and the universe were intrinsically connected. First, the paper will briefly describe the book for which the image was created. A description of the image that references Fludd’s conception of the macrocosm and microcosm will follow. This foundation will allow for an examination of his theories involving the divine spirit, the sun, and the creation of the universe. Finally, this paper will analyze the three realms of his universe: the empyrean, ethereal, and elemental in order to show that The Mirror can truly be seen as a depiction of not only the universe, but also the soul.
Bryanna Thompson, ’16
Sponsor: Christina Penn-Goetsch