Orbis Pictus and the Atlas Mnemosyne. Warburg’s Epistolary Correspondence with Kramář, Chytil and Zíbrt
The article looks at Aby Warburg’s correspondence with Czech art historians Vincenc Kramář and Karel Chytil, and the prominent Czech biographer Čeněk Zíbrt. Warburg had a lifelong interest in iconography and iconology, and was particularly interested in Greek mythology and its influence on astrology. In the latter half of the 1920s, he approached Czech scholars with a query regarding pictorial documentation relating to court festivities from the reign of Emperor Rudolf II and the latter’s interest in astrology. At the same time, he was attempting to track down illustrated editions of Jan Amos Comenius, specifically the Orbis Pictus, a highly regarded textbook for children that was accompanied in some editions by a three-dimensional mobile aid demonstrating the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. This text attempts to answer the question of what project it was that Warburg needed and sought this material for. Chronologically speaking, his attempt to obtain these materials would seem to indicate they were for his greatest, but sadly last and unfinished work Bilderatlas Mnemosyne. The paper also asks what kind of role Orbis Pictus was intended to play in this project.
Full-text in the Digital Library of the Czech Academy of Sciences: