Knowledge and Discernment in the Early Modern Arts  book cover
1st Edition

Knowledge and Discernment in the Early Modern Arts

ISBN 9780367334079
Published April 17, 2019 by Routledge
342 Pages 23 Color & 88 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In early modern Europe, discernment emerged as a key notion at the intersection of various domains in both learned and artisanal cultures. Often used synonymously with judgment, ingenuity, and taste, discernment defined the ability to perceive and understand the secrets of nature and art, and became explicitly connected with a kind of knowledge available only to experts in the respective fields. With contributions by historians of art and historians of science, and with geographic coverage focusing on the Low Countries and their multiple connections to different parts of the world, this volume reframes recent scholarship on what the editors term ’cultures of knowledge and discernment’ in the early modern period. The collection is innovative in its focus on investigating types of knowledge linked to what was then called the ’science’ (scientia) of art, to artistic expertise and connoisseurship, and to ’secrets of art and nature.’

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Hidden Artifices
Sven Dupré and Christine Göttler


Part I: Sites of Discernment

1 Transforming Nature into Art: Fall of the Rebel Angels (1562) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Tine Luk Meganck

2 Vulcan’s Forge: The Sphere of Art in Early Modern Antwerp

Christine Göttler

Part II: Artifices and Imitation

3 Superb Craftsmanship in Antwerp: Baroque Goldsmiths’ Work in Competition with the Visual Arts

Lorenz Seelig

4 The Veronica according to Zurbarán: Painting as Figura, and Image as Vestigio

Felipe Pereda

5 ‘The Various Natures of Middling Colours We May Learne of Painters’. Sir Kenelm Digby Looks at Rubens and Van Dyck

Karin Leonhard  

Part III: Secrets and Knowledge

6 Oil Painting as a Workshop Secret: On Calumnies, Legends, and Critical Investigations

Oskar Bätschmann

7 Peiresc in the Parisian ‘Jewel House’
Peter N. Miller 

8 Germanic Antiquity in Rembrandt’s Circle

Thijs Weststeijn

Part IV: Mechanical Science and Technique

9 Rembrandt and Painting as a Mechanical Science in Dutch Seventeenth-Century Art

Jan Blanc

10 From Mechanism to Technique: Diderot, Chardin, and the Practice of Painting
Paul Taylor


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Sven Dupré is Professor of History of Art, Science and Technology at the Faculty of Humanities at Utrecht University and the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Christine Göttler is Professor of Art History at the University of Bern, Switzerland.