ITEM: engraved portrait of Raymond Lull, ca. 17th century7x4 inches. Some browning. Very good condition. $300
Ref: JF Ptak Science Books Post 1333
Raymon Lull is perhaps the most famous Catalan given to the world--he is also one of the most famous people in history with the most names. (He was also known as Ramon, Raimundo and Raymond, Raimundus and Raymundus Lull, Lully, Llull, and Lullus and Lulio, among others.) Seriously though, he was a very interesting thinker who went far beyond the norm, and then some, his creativity overmatching the possibilities of the parenthetical sciences of his time, and stretching timeless logic as well as he went along. But so it goes, as they say; he did do aggressive work and at the very least it was for the most part quite pretty-sounding. And as he pushed up and against existing thinking it was up to that confronted thinking to push back--which sometimes happened and sometimes didn't. He studied the law, alchemy, botany, religions, and may well have written the first novel ever to appear in Europe (at least it was the first in Catalan)--I think that you could say, overall, that he was a rationalist.
This engraving is one version of many that I've seen online, and may be the original--this is a pure guess on my part, my reasoning is so mainly because there is so much more added detail than in any other versions of the engraving. the added bits in the corners, and of course the scene revealed by the pulled-back curtain. The engraved lines are also very sharp, very pronounced, not like some of the other version which look a little less defined...this one is razor sharp.
The word balloon (and by the way I wrote a post here two years ago on the history of word balloons) coming from Lull's mouth is Lux mea est ipse dominius "My light is that of the Lord", a claim for divine inspiration, guidance, fortitude. Beyond all else Lull was a Christian, and a Christian to some severe fault--he was very involved in the conversion of Muslims, and was also an (utter) expulsioist in regards to the Jews. The Christian philosophies of Lull are clearly shown in this 17th century portrait of the man.
And in the scene that is not seen in the other reproductions of this portrait online we see a small host of interesting sci-philosophical instruments cluttered around what seems to be a giant working with an astrolabe. (This fellow is a head taller than the other people gathered around him, and he is most definitely sitting down on a high stool, making him taller still.) We see dividers and various measuring devices, plotting instruments, and even a pair of specs, which would've been very uncommon in in the 13th century. I'm happy to see a dog sleeping through the ruckus.
In the sky in place of the sun is a triangular collection of burning candles, or they seem like candles, which continues a very old tradition of symbolizing unity, and in this case, in a Christian theme, a god surrounded by the holy trinity... related symbols appear frequently in images depicting the Old Testament creation cycle.
Continuing this theme, if you look in the right upper corner of the engraving there is another interesting symbol--a hand issuing from a cloud with a book, sourounded by three fleur de lis. This is in obvious reference to the balloon statement, the hand of god issuing a book, or knowledge, to the recipient (which would be the reader or Lull); the fleur de lis, a French lily, was often used in Renaissance and Baroque imaging as a representation of the holy trinity, and of purity and chastity, spirituality. Or perhaps it was just a flower.
My own interest in Lull--aside from the great beauty in which his ideas were encapsulated and presented--is in his idea generator, and the possible influence it had on later thinkers like Leibniz who may have built on his interesting breakthrough to produce one of the earliest arithmetical calculators. Lull's own calculator (which I wrote a little about here) is simple and elegant, and may actually be powerful for some--it was a series of discs that when turned would relate ideas and letters and numbers which were by serendipity intended to generate unexpected ideas to think about. For the 13th century this was a major idea, and I like it even today.