Cabinet de Kircher, Athanase

Décrit dans G. de Sepibus, Romani Collegii Societatis Jesu Musaeum celeberrimum, Amsterdam, 1678. Cabinet cité dans Huguetan (1681). Témoignage de John Evelyn (1644)

Ce cabi­net est men­tion­né par Spon dans la liste annexée au Voyage d’Italie… d’Huguetan (Lyon, 1681), pour la ville de Rome :
"Le Cabi­net du Col­lege Romain où sont les pieces de mecha­nique Diop­trique, Talis­mans et medaillles du Pere Kir­ker." (p. 286)
Le P. Atha­nase Kir­cher (1602–1680), jésuite, lègue sa col­lec­tion au Col­lège romain. Après la sup­pres­sion de l'ordre des Jésuites en 1722, le Vati­can récu­père le musée, jusqu'à ce qu'il soit res­ti­tué aux Jésuites en 1825. Deve­nu Musée d'Etat en 1873, il voit ses col­lec­tion dis­per­sées en 1912. Ce qui reste du Musée d'Athanase Kir­cher se trouve à pré­sent dans les salles 12 à 16 de la Vil­la Giu­lia, au Musée des Thermes et dans le Palais Mas­si­mo.


Témoi­gnage de John Eve­lyn (1644)

8th Novem­ber. We visi­ted the Jesuits’Church, the front whe­reof is estee­med a noble piece of archi­tec­ture, the desi­gn of Jaco­mo del­la Por­ta and the famous Vigno­la. In this church lies the body of their renow­ned Igna­tus Loyo­la, an arm of Xave­rius, their other Apostle ; and, at the right end of their high altar, their cham­pion, Car­di­nal Bel­lar­mine. Here Father Kir­cher1 (pro­fes­sor of Mathe­ma­tics and the orien­tal tongues) sho­wed us many sin­gu­lar cour­te­sies, gar­dens, and final­ly (through a hall hung round with pic­tures of such of their order as had been exe­cu­ted for their prag­ma­ti­cal and busy adven­tures) into his own stu­dy, where, with Dutch patience, he sho­wed us his per­pe­tual motions, catop­trics, magne­ti­cal expe­ri­ments, models, and a thou­sand other crot­chets and devices, most of them since publi­shed by him­self, or his indus­trious scho­lar, Schot­ti2.

1Atha­na­sius Kir­cher was born at Ful­da, in Ger­ma­ny, ear­ly in the seven­teenth cen­tu­ry. He recei­ved his edu­ca­tion at Wurtz­burg, and in 1635 ente­red the Col­lege of Jesuits, at Avi­gnon. He became a good scho­lar in Orien­tal lite­ra­ture, and an admi­rable mathe­ma­ti­cian ; but he direc­ted his atten­tion par­ti­cu­lar­ly to the stu­dy of hie­ro­gly­phics. Father Kircher’s works on various abs­truse sub­jects amount to twen­ty folio volumes, for which he acqui­red great renown in his day. On Evelyn’s visit to Rome, he was consi­de­red one of the grea­test mathe­ma­ti­cians and Hebrew scho­lars of which the metro­po­lis of Christianity—then the head-quar­ters of learning—could boast. He died in 1680. He his men­tio­ned in other pas­sages of the Dia­ry.
2Cas­par Schott, a native of Wurtz­burg, where he was born in 1608, who had the advan­tage of being the favou­rite pupil of Father Kir­cher. He taught phi­lo­so­phy and mathe­ma­tics at Rome and Paler­mo, and publi­shed seve­ral curious and eru­dite works in phi­lo­so­phy and natu­ral his­to­ry ; but they have long since cea­sed to pos­sess any autho­ri­ty. He died in 1666.

(The dia­ry of John Eve­lyn, Ed. William Bray, J.M. DENT et E.P DULTON, Lon­don-New York, 1905, Tome I, p.107–108.)

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