Aspects of Scientific Practice/Organization Drift 27, Eetkamer Organized Session
24 Jul 2019 09:00 AM - 11:45 AM(Europe/Amsterdam)
20190724T0900 20190724T1145 Europe/Amsterdam Early Modern Science and Art in a Global Context

In recent years, scholars of early modern science have emphasized the visual aspects of natural knowledge during the period that was once called the scientific revolution. This panel examines how images and knowledge circulated between painters, draughtsmen, printmakers, naturalists and scientific practitioners. Our chronological focus spans from 1500 to 1800, from the German artist Albrecht Dürer's musings on the limits of mathematizing the art of perspective to the visual accounts of James Cook's voyages to the Pacific. We interpret the development of early modern science in a global context, and investigate how European, Latin American and Asian practitioners interacted with each other, exchanging and producing textual and visual information in the process. We also critically examine the limitations of such an approach, paying a special attention to what factors hindered or completely blocked the circulation in the period, both across the globe and across different professional backgrounds. This panel is highly diverse, incl. speakers and commentators from the USA, the United Kingdom, Spain and Hungary, from four different institutions. The speakers range from art historians through museum curators to historians of science.

Organized by Daniel Margocsy 

Drift 27, Eetkamer History of Science Society 2019 meeting@hssonline.org

In recent years, scholars of early modern science have emphasized the visual aspects of natural knowledge during the period that was once called the scientific revolution. This panel examines how images and knowledge circulated between painters, draughtsmen, printmakers, naturalists and scientific practitioners. Our chronological focus spans from 1500 to 1800, from the German artist Albrecht Dürer's musings on the limits of mathematizing the art of perspective to the visual accounts of James Cook's voyages to the Pacific. We interpret the development of early modern science in a global context, and investigate how European, Latin American and Asian practitioners interacted with each other, exchanging and producing textual and visual information in the process. We also critically examine the limitations of such an approach, paying a special attention to what factors hindered or completely blocked the circulation in the period, both across the globe and across different professional backgrounds. This panel is highly diverse, incl. speakers and commentators from the USA, the United Kingdom, Spain and Hungary, from four different institutions. The speakers range from art historians through museum curators to historians of science.

Organized by Daniel Margocsy 

Stradanus' Nova Reperta: A Tory Interpretation of HistoryView Abstract
Organized Session 09:00 AM - 09:30 AM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 07:00:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 07:30:00 UTC
This article examines the reception history of Jan van der Straet (Stradanus)’ Nova reperta, the iconic visual account of the modern inventions of the scientific revolution. It reconstructs how contemporary publics responded to Stradanus’ prints within Europe and across the globe. As I argue, the Nova reperta had a rather limited reception compared to the rest of Stradanus’ oeuvre; modern inventions seem not to have been popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Interest in Stradanus was limited to the circles of the Medici in Florence, who used his prints to invent a tradition of supporting learnings and craftsmanship, and to a few humanists and antiquarians who used the Nova reperta within a highly religious framework. The talk focuses on two case studies: the French engraver Melchior Tavernier, who relied on the prints of the Nova reperta in a court case agains the booksellers’ guild in the Paris of the 1620s, and the Oxford antiquarian Thomas Hearne, who used the Nova reperta to learn more about the the early history of printing in order to criticize the 18th-century book trade in the wake of the Copyright Act of 1710. As these two cases reveal, the Nova reperta’s images were used for highly political purposes in this period, and were not taken to be as unproblematic accounts of artisanal or scientific work.
Presenters
DM
Daniel Margocsy
HPS, University Of Cambridge
"Whenever the Rules... Should Fail, and Grow Tedious": On the Limits of Perspectival RepresentationView Abstract
Organized Session 09:30 AM - 10:00 AM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 07:30:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 08:00:00 UTC
In one of the six perspectival projections in The Practice of Painting and Perspective Made Easy (1756), Thomas Bardwell includes an ancient sculpture of an elaborately curved pair of ram’s horns. His long study of the rules of perspective and “puzzling after this mathematical Truth” notwithstanding, Bardwell was unable to render the form of the horns mathematically and determined that “whenever the Rules . . . should fail, and grow tedious, . . . I design immediately to settle the Affair at Sight of the Object.” Mathematicians who wrote on perspective acknowledged the complexities of perspectival rendering and described mechanical devices to aid in avoiding the difficulties for those who were not “willing to take the pains to open the Compass, nor to take the Rule for to draw a line,” as Jean Du Breuil put it in 1642. Such devices were ingenious alternative responses to the challenge of rendering two-dimensional objects on a three-dimensional surface and themselves reached considerable levels of complexity, but the extent to which they were actually used by practicing artists remains unclear. This paper examines the tipping point between perspectival theory and practice, focusing on renderings of curved objects, especially musical instruments, from Albrecht Dürer’s famous woodcut of two artists using a device to depict a foreshortened lute in his Underweysung der Messung (1525) to the elaborate still lifes by Evaristo Baschenis and Bartolomeo Bettera in the next century.
Presenters
JC
James Clifton
Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation
Nature, Ingenuity, and Invention in Seventeenth-Century Spanish Thought: The Writings of Juan Eusebio Nieremberg (1595-1658)View Abstract
Organized Session 10:15 AM - 10:45 AM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 08:15:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 08:45:00 UTC
This paper explores the intersection of ideas about nature, ingenuity (“ingenio”) and invention in seventeenth-century Spanish thought through an examination of the natural historical and natural philosophical writings of the Jesuit scholar Juan Eusebio Nieremberg (1595-1658), the first holder of the Chair of Natural History at Reales Estudios of the Jesuit Colegio Imperial in Madrid (founded in 1629). The paper places particular emphasis on instances of human and animal inventive and ingenious behaviour in the early modern American context: from the unique comportment of certain creatures to various cunning practices involving artefacts and materials. Through a number of books written and published between the late 1620s and the early 1630s, Nieremberg’s writings offer a rich corpus of information on European and American natural history, including a substantial portion of the materials gathered during the so-called ‘Francisco Hernández expedition’ to New Spain (1570-1577). The paper’s aim is to situate Nieremberg’s take on invention and ingenuity within a larger debate on issues like the fabric of the natural world, the nature of God’s craftsmanship, the moral and cultural dimensions of human and animal behaviour, and their natural philosophical and theological implications.
Presenters
JM
Jose Ramon Marcaida
University Of St Andrews
The Kangaroo and Other Natural Wonders: Picturing Pacific Exploration ca. 1770View Abstract
Organized Session 10:45 AM - 11:15 AM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 08:45:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 09:15:00 UTC
In 1773, visitors crowded one of London’s preeminent exhibition venues in order to see two recent paintings by George Stubbs. Portraying a dingo and a kangaroo, these images were among the first to depict recently-discovered Pacific flora and fauna for a European audience. Yet Stubbs – whose paintings of animals were valued for their anatomical precision rooted in direct observation – had never actually seen these creatures. The evidentiary authority of the images rested, instead, on their relation to the work of a rarely discussed but crucially important figure: the Scottish natural history illustrator Sydney Parkinson, who had died while serving as an artist on Captain Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific. This paper examines the tension between observation and invention in the visual culture of scientific discovery from Cook’s first expedition. The paintings and prints that circulated in Britain following Cook’s return deployed a number of competing – and at times even contradictory – pictorial strategies to shore up their scientific credibility and to enhance their popular appeal. Situated between specimen and spectacle, this paper will show, these images created a framework for visualising Pacific exploration that shaped not only how British audiences imagined the remote region but also how scientific knowledge about it was disseminated to a wider public.
Presenters
SO
Stephanie O'Rourke
Lecturer, University Of St Andrews
Commentary: Early Modern Science and Art in Global ContextView Abstract
Organized Session 11:15 AM - 11:45 AM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 09:15:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 09:45:00 UTC
Presenters Surekha Davies
Utrecht University
HPS, University of Cambridge
Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation
University of St Andrews
Lecturer, University of St Andrews
Utrecht University
Dr. Surekha Davies
Utrecht University
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
University of Wisconsin-Madison
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