Spring 2013 Friends Lecture Series

Visualising Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

Borderline Cases. Art, Science and Religion in the Dutch Golden Age

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

17.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

Speaker(s): Dr Eric Jorink (Researcher at Huygens ING; and Andrew W Mellon Foundation / Research Forum Visiting Scholar (Mellon MA)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Professor Joanna Woodall with Dr Eric Jorink

still life of flowers, reds and white, with caterpillar
Dirck de Bray, Still Life with a Bouquet In the Making, 1674. Courtesy Mauritshuis, The Hague

The Dutch Republic of the Golden Age was famous not only for its art production, but also at the heart of the fundamental reconfiguration of knowledge that took place in Europe during the early modern period. Amsterdam especially was a nodal point, of both the emerging world trade and the production of works of art and the development of new scientific ideas. While ‘art’ and ‘science’ are commonly considered to be two distinct expressions of human culture, Eric Jorink will argue that the two were complementary, rather than opposites. Focusing on images depicting the natural world (for example, still life and landscape paintings, or of natural rarities) he will demonstrate that these works were more than expressions of vanitas, or the result of a presumed objective 'art of describing'. According to reformed orthodoxy, nature was God's second revelation to mankind. Observing Creation and representing it on paper, in paint, or in a cabinet of curiosities, was a tribute to the Divine Architect.

Eric Jorink studied History at the University of Groningen and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. In 2004 he gained his PhD cum laude at the University of Groningen with a thesis on the relation between science and religion in the Dutch Golden Age.

Since 2001 Jorink has been working as a researcher at the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) in The Hague. He has published widely on early modern scientific culture, including Reading the Book of Nature in the Dutch Golden Age, 1575-1715 (2010); together with Bart Ramakers, eds, Art and Science in the Early Modern Netherlands (2011); with Dirk van Miert, eds, Isaac Vossius (1618-1689) between Science and Scholarship (2012) and, most recently with Ad Maas, eds, Newton and the Netherlands. How Isaac Newton was Fashioned in the Dutch Republic (2012). Currently, he is finishing a biography of the Amsterdam microscopist Johannes Swammerdam (1637-1680). In 2012-13 he is co-teaching the Andrew W Mellon Foundation/ Research Forum Mellon MA special option on Visualizing Knowledge in the Early Modern Netherlands, c.1550-1730 with Professor Joanna Woodall and Dr Edward Wouk.

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

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