COLLOQUE : Art and Science in the Early Modern Low Countries (Amsterdam, 17-18 Sep 15)

Rijksmuseum / Trippenhuis, Amsterdam, NL, September 17 – 18, 2015
Registration deadline: Sep 14, 2015

On September 17 and 18, 2015, Amsterdam is to host the conference ‘Art
and Science in the Early Modern Low Countries (ca 1560-1730)’,
organized by the Rijksmuseum and the Huygens Institute for the History
of the Netherlands.

Prior to the eighteenth century, ‘art’ and ‘science’ were often
considered complementary, rather than opposite, expressions of human
culture. They enlightened one another: through comparable curiosity,
knowledge and observation of the world, but also in their resulting
products: paintings, prints, books, maps, anatomical preservations,
life casts, and many others. Scholars, craftsmen and artists often
engaged in observing and representing nature, in close cooperation.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth century, it was the Low Countries
that emerged as a center of artistic and scientific innovation and
creativity, and as central points in the exchange of goods, knowledge
and skill. It is certainly no coincidence that the outburst of artistic
productivity in the Netherlands, both the South and the North,
coincided with the ‘Scientific Revolution’.

The conference ‘Art and Science in the Early Modern Low Countries’
wants to contribute to the dialogue between experts in the history of
art, historians of science, and all those interested in the visual and
material culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth-century Netherlands.
The conference focuses on historical objects, images, works or art or
texts that represent the combination of art and science, and looks at
their origin and intended audience. Sessions are, amongst others,
devoted to the culture of collecting; modes of representing living
nature; the influence of new optical devices on the arts; and the
impact of travels abroad on representations of the world.

Although the emphasis of the conference will be on the Low Countries,
both the South and the North, several contributions also include
developments elsewhere in Europe. This way, it hopes to offer a broad
overview of the way in which art and science came together in the early
modern Low Countries.

Keynote Speakers:
– Pamela H. Smith, Columbia University, New York
– Alexander Marr, University of Cambridge

Organizing committee:
Eric Jorink and Ilja Nieuwland (Huygens Institute for the History of
the Netherlands, The Hague), Jan de Hond, Gregor Weber, Gijs van der
Ham and Pieter Roelofs (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

Scientific committee:
Joanna Woodall (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London), Karin Leonhard
(Universität Konstanz), Tim Huisman (Museum Boerhaave Leiden)

The first day of the conference (September 17) takes place in the
Rijksmuseum, the second day (September 18) in the Trippenhuis (Seat of
the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences), both in Amsterdam.


Day 1
17 September, Auditorium Rijksmuseum

Registration and coffee

Opening by Taco Dibbits (Director of collections, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam)

Eric Jorink (Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, The
Introduction. Art and Science in the Early Modern Low Countries

Key-note lecture
Pamela H. Smith (Columbia University, New York)

10.45-11.00 Coffee

Session I: Representing Nature in New Media

Marisa Anne Bass (Harvard University)
Portentous Nature: Frogs, Fossils, and Divine Disasters in
Mid-Sixteenth-Century Antwerp

Marrigje Rikken (Leiden University)
Exotic Animals in Flemish Art. Representing New Species in a New Medium
around 1600

Tonny Beentjes, Arie Pappot and Lisa Wiersma (Rijksmuseum / University
“Blommen ende Beestjens af te gieten”: Life-casting in the Netherlands

Intermezzo I: Life-casting experiments Rijksmuseum

12.25-14.00 Lunch, and opportunity to visit highlighted objects

Session II: Collecting and Communities of Discourse

Nadia Baadj (Bern University)
The Cabinetization of Art and Science in the Early Modern Low Countries

Paul van Duin (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam)
A unique Matera Medica Cabinet with a Miniature Apothecary

Bert van der Roemer (University of Amsterdam)
Dutch Collectors and the Metaphor of Nature as an Embroidery

Intermezzo II: Ways of Seeing, Ways of Knowing
(a.o. Presentation microscope and camera obscura by Museum Boerhaave

15.35-16.00 Tea

Session III: The Body and the Eye

Daniel Margócsy (University of New York)

Huib J. Zuidervaart (Huygens Institute for the History of the
Netherlands, The Hague)
Mathematical and Optical knowledge in mid-17th century Delft

Katrien Vanagt (Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands,
The Hague)
Vopiscus Fortunatus Plempius and the Working of the Eye
Followed by the movie ‘In Waking Hours’

17.15-18.00 Drinks

Day 2
18 September, Trippenhuis (Seat Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and

Welcome; opening

Session IV: Representing Anatomy (of animals and humans)

Lisa Bourla (University of Pennsylvania)
Art, Anatomy, and Pedagogy between Flanders and Florence c. 1600

Gaëtane Maes (Université de Lille)
Between Nature, Anatomy and Art: Crispijn de Passe’s Methods to draw

Steven Nadler (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Picturing Descartes’s Man: The Illustrations of the Traité de l’homme,
1662 and 1664

10.55-11.15 Coffee

Alexander Marr (University of Cambridge)
Early Modern Epistemic Images

12.00-13.00 Lunch, poster-presentations

Session V: The Small World

Floriana Giallombardo (Univerity of Palermo)
Paolo Boccone’s Recherches et observations naturelles (Amsterdam,
1674). European Curiosity, Microscopic Anatomy and the Enigma of
Figured Stones

Ann-Sophie Lehmann, Jeroen Stumpel, (University of Groningen /
University of Utrecht)
Oil and Observation. Vision and Science in Willem Beurs’ Treatise on
Oil Painting, De groote waereld in ‘t kleen geschildert

Kay Etheridge (Gettysburg College)
Maria Sibylla Merian: Envisioning the Natural World

Intermezzo III (10-minute presentations)

14.35-15.00 Tea, poster-presentations

Session VI: The World at Large: Exploring Oversea

Claudia Swan (Northwestern University, Chicago)
“Al hetwelcke my een groote verwonderinge was”: Birds of Paradise in
Dutch art, science, and trade

Thijs Weststeijn (University of Amsterdam)
The Chinese Challenge: East Asia in Nicolaas Witsen’s Collection

Esther Helena Arens (University of Cologne)
Between the Exact and the Economic: Material and Illustration in
Rumphius’ Rariteitkamer and Kruid-boek, 1670s to 1740s

Intermezzo IV (10-minute presentations)

Discussion and concluding remarks

17.00-18.00 Drinks; poster-presentations

For a tentative program please consult:

Admission and registration:
€ 95 (both days); Students: € 45.
Register at:

For more information:
Ilja Nieuwland,

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