Current Institutional Affiliation
Reader, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2006
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Harvard University
The Secret of Images: Scientific Illustrations and Intellectual Property in Early Modern Netherlands

I propose to study how Dutch scientific illustrations relating to artisanal technologies were circulated in the late 17th-century Republic of Letters. Through the case of scientific illustrations, I hope to illuminate how knowledge and technologies were transferred between artisans and natural philosophers, the two main actors of early modem science. I argue that the communication between an increasingly commercialized, artisanal Dutch science and the international public of the Republic of Letters provides an excellent testing ground to examine the complex relationship that existed between secretive craftsmanship and gentlemanly science in the early modem period. Scientific illustrations, one of the most complex and most frequently used media of the period, offer an opportunity to determine what epistemological and aesthetic concerns shaped this communication from the side of both natural philosophers and artisans. In four case studies in the history of anatomy, microscopy and shipbuilding, I will research how artisans employed the artistic conventions of Dutch Golden Age painting in order to offer a polite and gentlemanly representation of their scientific inventions and discoveries to the emerging public of learned natural philosophers.