Rosicrucian quadricentennary at the BPH

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“Divine Wisdom – Divine Nature” (BPH; van Heertum & Bouman eds., 2014)

This spring marked four hundred years since the publication of the first Rosicrucian manifesto, and as I have noted earlier, this has been an opportunity for scholars to publish new editions of primary sources and new reports on scholarship into the Rosicrucian heritage. But even the briefest review of how scholarly and cultural institutions are marking the anniversary year would be incomplete without mention of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam – which still houses one of the largest and most significant collections of Rosicrucian and related material in the world. What makes BPH special is that it’s not only a repository of material, an archive, but also an institution that seeks to embody the Rosicrucian heritage today and spread its philosophical, religious, visual and material culture. This dual agenda of the scholarly, curatorial and the evangelizing, missionary, has its roots in the vision of the collection’s founder, Joost Ritman, who was taken by these traditions at a young age and has been dedicated to promoting them ever since.

So how does the BPH mark the Rosicrucian quadricentennary? By putting on a show, and taking it on tour. The exhibition “Divine Wisdom – Divine Nature: The Message of the Rosicrucian Manifestoes in the Visual Language of the 17th Century” opened in Calw in Germany on September 2-6. In the coming two years, the exhibition is meant to travel to other locations in Europe, still to be announced.

The focus of the exhibition is something that the BPH does particularly well: the visual culture and imagery of Rosicrucianism in the 17th century. On display are engravings appearing in the works of Heinrich Khunrath, Daniel Mögling, Stephan Michelspacher, Robert Fludd and Michael Maier, most of which are thought to have been engraved by the celebrated artist Matthäus Merian the Elder.

The BPH has also released a small book on the occasion of this exhibition. It includes short articles on the works included in the exhibition, and some intriguing explications of imagery and symbolism by my colleagues Peter Forshaw and Alinda van Ackooy in Amsterdam, and material by the Rosicruciana expert Carlos Gilly – all edited by Cis van Heertum and José Bouman of the BPH. The book is a valuable guide to this literature and its rich imagery. If you (like me) missed the exhibition, you might want to check out this book which is available as an ebook (€15) from the BPH website, in both English and German.



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This blog post by Egil Asprem was first published on Heterodoxology. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] Heterodoxology: Rosicrucian quadricentennary at the BPH […]

  2. […] Egil Asprem over at Heterodoxology alerts us to an exciting traveling exhibit from the Ritman Library (Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica) in Amersterdam, perhaps the largest library collected dedicated to esoteric materials.  Marking the 400 year celebration of the publication of the first Rosicrucian Manifesto, Divine Nature — Divine Wisdom will display materials featuring the visual culture of Rosicrucianism in the 17th century.  The plan is for this exhibit to travel around Europe for the next two years.  If you can’t make it to the exhibit, you can enjoy the exhibit catalog which is available in both English and German, and in eBook form. […]

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