The original prints from which these two plates are engraved, belong to a set which consists of eight; seven of them represent the seven planets, and the influence those heavenly bodies are supposed to have upon the human constitution. The plate marked with the No. II. served as the frontispiece; it is a sort of almanac, exhibiting a calendar of the saints days, and a calculation of the day on which Easter would fall, from 1465 to 1517 inclusive'. Upon twelve small circles in the middle of the plate, are represented the employments" for the twelve months of the year, with the zodiacal sign belonging to each month; and the gradual increase and decrease of the days, is expressed by the extent of the shadow upon the border, within which these delineations are enclosed. They are as follows:
January. An elderly gentleman seated at a table, spread with provisions, near the fire, holding a glass with liquor in his hand.
February. The gardener digging his ground.
March. The employment of the two figures represented in this compartment is rather obscure; probably the man is planting shrubs or herbs in the garden, according to the direction of the lady who is standing by him.
April. Hawking and hunting the hare.
May. Running at the ring.
July. Gathering in corn and thrashing.
August. Sickness; the doctor is examining the urinal.
September. Gathering grapes.
October. Making wine.
December. Killing of Swine, and providing the good fare for Christmas.
The following directions are written in Italian at the bottom of the plate: If you will know when Easter shall be, find the date of the year in this engraving, the letter A.standing for April, and the letter M. for March.
PLATE III. represents the planet Venus, she appears in the clouds riding in her chariot drawn by doves, accompanied by Cupid, who has just discharged art* arrow at one of the ladies standing in the balcony; at a distance we see an unfortunate lover upon his knees, invoking the assistance of the deity; the rest of the figures appear to be immediately under the direction of her powerful influence. On the wheels of her chariot are represented the Bull and the Balance, with these inscriptions: TORO and BILANCE, the signs of the zodiac over which this planet was supposed to preside.
At the bottom of this and six other plates, are inscriptions importing the properties of the planets represented upon them. I shall give the following entirely as a specimen for the whole; one line of it only being copied upon the plate No. III.
VENERE. E SEGNO. FEMININO. POSTA. NEL. TERZO. CIELO. FREDDA. E VMIDA. TENPERATA. LA QVALE. AQVESTE. PROPRIETA. EAMA BELLI. VESTIMENTI. ORNATI. DQRO. E DARGENTO. E CHANZONE. E GAVDII. E GVOCHI. ET. E LACIVA. ET HA DOLCE PARLARE. EBELLA NELLIOCHI. E NELLA. FRONTE. E DI. CORPO. LEGGIERI. PIENA. DI CARNE. E DI. MEZZANA. STATVRA. DATA. A TVTTI. OPERE. CIRCA; ALLA. BELIZZA. ET. E SOTTO POSTO. ALLEI. LOTTONE E. IL. SVO. GIORNO. EVENERDI. E LA. PRIMA. HOR A. 8. 15. ET 22. E. LA. NOTTE. SVA. E MARTE. DI. E IL. SVOAMICO. E GIOVE. EL NIMICO. MERCVRIO. ET. HA. DVE HABITATIONS. EL. TORO. DI. GIORNO. E LIBRA. DI. NOTTE. E PERCONSIGLIERE. EL. SOLE. E LAVITE. SVA. EX ALTATIONE. EIL PESCE. ELA MORTE EDVMILIAZIONE. E VIRGO. E. VA. IN IOMESI. IZSENGI. INCOMIN CANDO. DA. LIBERA. E IN 25. GIORNO. VA VNO. SENGNO. E IN. VN GIORNO. VA VNO GRADO. EIZ. MINVTI. E. IN VNA ORA. 30 MINVTI.
I thought two specimens sufficient to be engraved, in order to show the style in which these curious plates were executed. However, I doubt not but that a short description of the rest, will be also very acceptable to many of my readers.
GIOVA, Jupiter. He is seated in his chariot in the clouds, with a crown upon his head, and a dart in his left hand; before him is represented Ganymede kneeling, with a small vase in one hand, and a cup in the other. The chariot is drawn by two eagles, and on the wheels are the two signs Sagittarius and the Fishes, with the words SAGITARIO and PISCE. The distance is a mountainous country, with figures on horseback and on foot, hunting and hawking ; in the foreground towards the right we see an emperor upon his throne with figures doing him homage ; and to the left, three figures representing (as it is supposed) Boccaccio, Dante, and Petrarch seated in an alcove, &c. with the inscription underneath, beginning thus:
GIOVE. EPIANETA. MASCVLINO. POSTO. NEL SESTO. CIELO. CALDO. E HVMIDO. TEMPERATO. DI NATURA. DARIA. DOLCE. SANGVIGNO. SPERANTE. &c.
SOLE, the Sun. He is represented splendidly armed, with a crown upon his head, and seated in his chariot, drawn by four horses; upon the chariot wheel is the zodiacal sign of the Lion, inscribed beneath LEO. In the back-ground we see a castle upon an hill, and some figures shooting at a mark with cross-bows; near them are two men praying to a crucifix; others are diverting themselves with mock fights, and a laughable figure of a dwarf is standing by them with a sword under his arm; others again are throwing stones and wrestling, whilst in the front an emperor is seated, and three tumblers are depicted before him, exhibiting their feats of activity. The inscription begins in this manner:
SOLE. E. PIANETA. MASCVLINO. POSTO. NEL QVARTO. CIELO. CALDO. E. SECHO. INFOCATO. CHOLERICO. DI. COLORE. DORO. &c. 4 MARTE
MARTE, Mars. He is seated in his chariot, drawn by two horses, and represented completely armed, with wings upon his head, and a sword in his right hand; upon the wheels of the chariot are expressed the Ram and the Scorpion, two signs of the zodiac, and under them is written ARIETE and SCARPIONE. At a small distance is a castle, with figures fighting before it, and a man is represented ringing the alarm bell; in the fore-ground, a foraging party of soldiers are seen falling upon a company of herdsmen, and seizing their cattle, the inscription begins in the following manner:
MARTE. ESENGNO. MASCULINI. POSTO. NEL QUARTO. CEILO¥ MOLTO. CALDO. FOCOSO. ET HA QUESTE. PROPRIETE. DAMARE. MILIZIA. BATTAGLE. ET UCCISIONI. MALIGNO. DISCORDINATO, &c.
SATVRNO, Saturn. He is seated in his chariot, drawn by two dragons, in his right-hand he holds a scythe, and upon the wheels of the chariot are two signs, the Goat and the Water-Bearer, inscribed CAPRICORNO and AQUARIO ; the distant country is bounded with mountains, and with castles, and a figure is represented hanging upon a gallows holding a cross in his hands ; near to the spectator is seen a man ploughing with' two oxen, in a large space, overflowed with water, and other men are thrashing corn in the open field. Towards the left appears an hermitage surmounted with a cross, and the hermit is seated at the door, near which is a man cutting wood, and two other labourers with their tools; in the fore-ground, to the right, is a prison, and before it a man seated with his legs and arms in the stocks, and two grotesque figures are standing in the front; towards the left are men killing hogs, one of which is hanged upon a tree. The inscription at bottom begins as follow:
SATVRNO. E PIANETA. MASCVLINO. POSTO, NEL SETIMO. CIELO. FRIDDO. E SECHO. MA. ACCIDEITAL MENTE. HVMIDO, DI NATVRA. DI TERRA, &c.
MERCVRIO, Mercury. He is represented in his chariot, holding his caduceus and drawn by two birds like hawks; on the wheels of his chariot an? two zodiacal signs,, the Virgin and the Twins, inscribed VIRGO and GEMINI; we are here presented with the inside of a city ; in the back-ground is a view of a street, and in the front, towards the right, a large building, which the workmen are decorating with ornaments ; below appears the potter with a variety of small vessels, and in the front the sculptor carving a head in stone ; above him are two philosophers holding a celestial sphere, and near them a table covered with viands; in the buildings towards the left, we see a musician playing upon an organ ; it is singular enough that the bellows, by means of which the instrument is supplied with wind, resembles the common bellows which we have in our houses at this day; in a compartment below, are two figures at a table writing,, and a third is regulating a clock. The perspective, in which science the artist had here an opportunity of showing his abilities, is most dreadfully defective.
The inscription at the bottom begins in this manner:
MERCURIC E PIANETA. MASEVLINO. POSTO NEL SECONDO. CIELO. ET SECHO. MA PERCHE. LA SUA. SICCITA. E MOLTO PASSIVA LVI. E FREDO. &c.
LVNA, the Moon. She is seated in her chariot, drawn by two females, holding a bow in her left-hand, and a dart in her right; upon the wheel of the chariot is the zodiacal sign of the Crab, with the Latin name CANCER, written underneath it. The distance represents a mountainous country, with a castle and a town, very rudely executed. Nearer to the eye is a fowler setting his nets, figures fishing in a boat,, and a man shooting at a flock of birds with a bow and arrow; near him, some people are seated at a table playing at dice; in the fore-ground, towards the left, is a water-mill, part of the wheel of which appears, and a bridge over the river upon which we see a man on horseback, and an ass fallen down under his load; beneath the bridge are naked figures in the water fishing with a net.
The inscription at the bottom of the plate begins as follows:
LA LANA. E PIANETA. FEMININO. POSTO. NEL PRIMO. CIELO. FREDA. E. VMIDA. FLEMATICHA. MEZANA TRA EL MONDO. SVPERIORE ET LO. INFERIORE. AMA. LA GEOMETRIA, &c.
These curious and valuable specimens of ancient engravings are in the collection of Dr. Monro, with whose permission I copied the two above described.
Text and image of Labours of the Month and Children of the Planet Venus from A biographical dictionary of engravers by Joseph Strutt.