[Presentation] Huib Zuidervaart & Oscar Matsuura: Astronomer, Cartographer and Naturalist of the New World: The Life and Scholarly Achievements of Georg Marggrafe (1610-1643) in Colonial Dutch Brazil (Leiden, 18 November 2022)

22 september 2022

Georg Marggrafe (1610-1643) is today hailed as the principal author of an influential account of the natural history of Northern Brazil and as compiler of the first accurate map of the area, which is considered as one of the most elegant products of seventeenth-century Dutch cartography. Initially, however, he had the ambition to become known in astronomy. To this end, he qualified himself as a practical astronomer at the then brand-new Leiden Observatory in 1637. With the support of Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, then governor-general of colonial Dutch Brazil, he built Recife the first European-style astronomical observatory on the South American continent. There Marggrafe systematically charted the southern stars. He intended to supplement the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe, who charted the Northern Hemisphere half a century before. But Marggrafe’s untimely death (and the negligence of a Leiden professor) prevented the publication of his valuable observations. As a result, Marggrafe did not achieve fame in astronomy but became famous for his equally remarkable other achievements.

This book, composed by Huib Zuidervaart & Oscar Matsuura, presents Marggrafe’s stunning biography and is supplemented by a text edition of his astronomical legacy, prepared for the printing press in the 1650s, but only now finalized.

Astronomer, Cartographer and Naturalist of the New World: The Life and Scholarly Achievements of Georg Marggrafe (1610-1643) in Colonial Dutch Brazil is published by Amsterdam University Press; it is to be presented on 18 November 2022 in the lecture room of Rijksmuseum Boerhaave in Leiden. A programme of the afternoon will be published soon in this space.