Spring 2013 Friends Lecture Series

Visualising Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

Recipes and Images: Writing about the Visual, Visualizing Knowledge in Early Modern Antwerp

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

17.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

handwritten text with drawing of oven
Die maniere van ovens te maken om colueren te backen van alle soorten. Ende hoemense backen sal, ca. 1525. Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp.

Speaker(s): Sven Dupré (Professor of History of Knowledge,  Institute for Art History, Freie Universität Berlin; and Research Group Director, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Professor Joanna Woodall with Dr Eric Jorink

In early modern Europe, recipes were ubiquitous. Avidly collected in manuscript notebooks and publicised in books of secrets flooding the printing market, they instructed readers how to colour glass, make gold, brew a medicine, and entertain (or fool) one’s guests by creating illusory images with only a few mirrors. For all their diversity of purpose, they were all the same when it came to attempting to fix in words artisanal knowledge, which otherwise would have been confined within the walls of the workshop and the laboratory. A good part of the recipes which have come down to us concern the visual arts. The scarcity (often even complete absence) of visual materials in recipe collections and books of secrets is therefore all the more striking. This lecture ponders the questions why, where, when, and who used the visual in writing about the visual. Ranging widely in chronological and geographical scope, the focus is on early modern Antwerp: the largest commercial metropolis north of the Alps, a city home to a thriving book and art market, a knowledge hub of the highest significance.

Sven Dupré is Professor of History of Knowledge at the Institute for Art History at the Freie Universität Berlin and Research Group Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin. His work has been supported by fellowships at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) in Cambridge, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and at the Centre for the Foundations of Science at the University of Sydney. He has published on a wide range of topics in the history of early modern science, technology and art in Italy, the Spanish Netherlands, the German lands, Britain and France. His most recent publications include Silent Messengers: The Circulation of Material Objects of Knowledge in the Early Modern Low Countries (LIT, 2011) and From Earth-Bound to Satellite: Telescopes, Skills and Networks (Brill, 2011). A book on translation, language and knowledge, co-edited with Harold Cook (Brown University), is forthcoming. One of the projects of his research group "Art and Knowledge in Pre-Modern Europe" at the Max Planck Institute for History of Science concerns artists' recipes from Cennini to De Mayerne.

The Spring 2013 Friends Lecture Series brings together leading historians of art and of science to consider ways in which knowledge was made visible in Early Modern Europe. The series builds upon and critically engages with Svetlana Alpers’ ground-breaking book, The Art of Describing. Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century (1983). It addresses a range of visual materials, including bone and wax, tables and charts, as well as oil paintings and prints. The lectures will explore the quest for knowledge with reference to physical spaces such as the humanist cabinet, the Kunstkammer and the anatomy theatre. The series is organised in conjunction with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation interdisciplinary MA on Visualizing Knowledge in the Early Modern Netherlands c. 1550 -1730.

Supported by Friends of The Courtauld

Back to Events Calendar