JF Ptak Science Books Post 1666
The depiction of the anthropomorphic Sun featured with a broad toothy smile seems a commonplace fixture in modern times--at least in the very popular media--but it seems to me that the Sun was an impressively dour character in the most misty and moldy past. Its a much harder issue for me to locate a happy Sun than a phlegmatic one, as we can in the coming examples. Here, for instance, the Sun is actually disappointed, and dark:
[Georgette de Montenay/Anna Roemer Visscher, Cent emblemes chrestiens (c. 1615)]
The Sun (representative in this case of the Christian god) disavows the heavily robbed false philosopher, finding nothing but fault in the erroneous thinking and pronouncements, so much so in fact that it distances itself from the phonylogian by turning itself black and devoid of light, absenting the light that was supposed to be shone via the heretic's teaching.
Feigning to be a philosopher with your long cloak
You bring forward all false theories about the pure Sun.
First learn to recognize what is the true light.
The balmy day does not shine in obscure night
Conversely, the sun would also shine to dispel the false teaching of other philosophers, as so, though this time without any face at all:
But mostly it seems the Sun appears to those who came before with a mostly blank expression:
Where was the smilign Sun hundreds of years ago? Anthropomorphic images of the Sun have appeared in books in the West for several hundred years, and in almost every case where the Sun has a face, it is usually expressionless, its mouth drawn into a mid-Western farmer/Abe Lincoln horizontal, a tightly drawn nothing. Two thin lips, firmly repulsing all emotion. The face of the Sun was insurmountable, a tabula rasa, showing perhaps that there was nothing there at all inhabiting this iconographic image of The Creator to give the poor observer a glimpse into the depths of the future.
This observation seems to stand for Sun Gods and Goddesses as well, even the ones who are being tugged or pulled or charioted a cross the vaults of the heavens—the Nordic Sól, Greek Helios , Roman Sol Invictus, Vedic Surya and of course Elijah ascending to Heaven in a Chariot of Fire, all seem pretty intractable. But in general images that we see of Sun deities like Apollo, Greece and Rome; Freyr, Norse; Garuda, Hindu; Huitzilopochtli (Uitzilopochtli), Aztec; Inti, Inca; Liza,West African; Lugh, Celtic and Re (Ra) and Isis, and on and on, show a small, set pair of lips, if they have a mouth at all, and this going back beyond the Sumerians (Shamash).
When the Sun really loses its human personae in the 17th century (the scientific sun and stars beginning much earlier, as in for example Allessandro Piccolomini's Della Sfera del Mondo, 1552, with simple star maps unadorned by icons and written in the vernacular), it is replaced with starry images which seem to somehow have more emotional authority than the sun images with faces. Perhaps the sun was meant to have this Delphic, blank-mirroring quality, given its importance as a giver (and taker) of things,
and that it was not within human capacity to understand it as an emotive entity, especially during bad times. But in those times of Good and Bad it wasn’t necessary to see a frown or a smile on an image of the Sun, I guess because of the complaints of redundancy.
No matter, though, as the modern astronomical text took care of the Sun and its missing buckets of smiles in due course—until more modern times, when the Sun is made to have a matching disposition, a result of kinder modern artists.
This Sun seems to rule with an ennui Daniel de la Feuille, Devises et emblemes (1691); and then again, in the following superbly engraved work by Jacob Cats, Sinne- en minnebeelden (1627):
The Sun here seems to have a knowledge-worn expression, a sense of having-seen-it-all, in this beautiful work by Georgette de Montenay/Anna Roemer Visscher, in Cent emblemes chrestiens (c. 1615)
And again from the Montenay we see a smirking Sun (definitely not a smiling one) judging the efforts of humans once again, and finding them coming up far to short:
I guess you could make a case for an "amused" Sun in the Montenay, though in a third-person sort of Royal way of being removedly amused. Here--in a rare and very important work in the history of alchemy--we see a rising Sun in an amused state, welcoming the book's author, on his alchemical pilgrimage.
In another illustration from this book (by Salomon Trismosin, Auretum Velius oder Guldin Schatz und Kunsthkammer, printed by Georg Straub at Lake Constance in 1598/9, and also known as "Splendor Solis") we find the following expected facial posture:
And so on and on this continues, this presentation of the Sun as both removed and judging, until--in some cases--the business of representing the Sun anthropomorphically disappears altogether, even in allegorical representation, like so:
The Man in the Moon will just have to wait his turn, though I can't resist the following couple of images, the first of which shows the Moon in a phase of nothingness and a nil expression:
[Source: Daniel de la Feuille, Devises et emblemes (1691)]
And then this classic image from an iconic and early science fiction film:
And from the 1905 motion picture version of Jules Vernes From the Earth to the Moon called A Trip to the Moon--upon the approach, the Moon's surface was blank, but quickly developed a face, which was sort of smiling--until struck in the eye by the Verne capsule.
Offhand, though, my memory doesn't offer too many smiling-Moon expressions.