12. [Zodiacal Globe]

12. Unknown, 1910
[Zodiacal Globe]
Smith Collection: SM-1910-35

The curious artwork on the case floor demonstrates how the constellation was a largely irrelevant concept by 1900. Astronomers used constellation names, but to refer to regular portions of the Heavens; for everyone else, they were artistic symbols from ancient mythology.

The globe depicts and names the constellations in an art nouveau style (common, 1895–1914), reducing them to ornament. It misplaces the stars, so that Orion (at right) lacks his belt of three stars. In copying the name Ursa mayor from a source, the artist mistook the long-s (‘∫’) for ‘f,’ so the name appears as urfa mayor.