Seeing what Englishwomen saw in the early modern period brings them into view in a variety of new ways, many of them managed and enhanced by the machinery of cheap print. In contrast with Petrarchan poetry, which imagined women with fear and described love as plague, print established other models of health and wellness, and other ways of registering women’s powers. Women known as searchers who were charged to enter houses and locate plague rather than flee from it shared their findings with town officials who printed up statistics in weekly Bills of Mortality. The searcher was both a ‘harbinger of disaster’ and a tool of recovery, and popular ballads of the time frequently deploy her example along with her abilities to avoid ruin and register signs of life. These ballads supply alternatives to Petrarchan demographics, and I examine the ways early modern female poets draw upon their methodology, too.
The book traces major concepts including: the creation of the visual effects of accuracy through careful action and training; the development of visual judgment and connoisseurship; the role of a network in the production of knowledge; balancing readers’ expectations with representational conventions; and the effects of acts of collecting on the creation and circulation of knowledge. On the one hand, this study uncovers that approaches to knowledge production were different in the seventeenth century, as compared with in the twenty-first century. On the other, it reveals how the early modern struggle to sort through an overwhelming quantity of visual information - brought on by major changes in image production and circulation - resonates with our own.
This article focuses on the intersection of the hunt and art as it is reflected in three early modern depictions of artists as successful hunters: Gabriel Metsu’s Hunter getting dressed after bathing, Ary de Vois’s Self-portrait as a hunter, and Rembrandt’s A dead bittern held high by a hunter. These three self-referential paintings show different ways in which the hunt and dead animals were used to characterise artistic practice, and to what extent they were underpinned by the semantics of other forms of ‘the chase’: the pursuit of love, knowledge, and power.
Although our systems of thought have long accustomed us to differentiate sharply between the human world of ‘culture’ and the animal world of ‘nature’, both sides of this very influential dichotomy are entangled in complex and indissoluble ways. The civet cat and its very special perfume—civet—provide a perfect example of this ‘merging’. The idea of taming the untamable, expressed in paintings of civet cats and textual sources, has been especially fruitful and became a promising preoccupation especially for artists like Joris Hoefnagel to enrich their work with an intellectual hybridity. The article shows how—in painting, perfume, and writing—nature and culture complemented one another, rather than standing in opposition. Owing to the animal’s odour, its mysterious nature, and debates about its (un)tamability, the image of the civet cat served as a focal point through which early modern Europeans wrestled with and redefined the realms of human and animal, of art and science, and of culture and nature.
The complex relation between gender and the representation of intellectual authority has deep roots in European history. Portraits and Poses adopts a historical approach to shed new light on this topical subject. It addresses various modes and strategies by which learned women (authors, scientists, jurists, midwifes, painters, and others) sought to negotiate and legitimise their authority at the dawn of modern science in Early Modern and Enlightenment Europe (1600–1800). This volume explores the transnational dimensions of intellectual networks in France, Italy, Britain, the German states and the Low Countries. Drawing on a wide range of case studies from different spheres of professionalisation, it examines both individual and collective constructions of female intellectual authority through word and image. In its innovative combination of an interdisciplinary and transnational approach, this volume contributes to the growing literature on women and intellectual authority in the Early Modern Era and outlines contours for future research.
As the long sixteenth century came to a close, new positive ideas of gusto/taste opened a rich counter vision of food and taste where material practice, sensory perceptions and imagination contended with traditional social values, morality, and dietetic/medical discourse. Exploring the complex and evocative ways the early modern Italian culture of food was imagined in the literature of the time, Food Culture and the Literary Imagination in Early Modern Italy reveals that while a moral and disciplinary vision tried to control the discourse on food and eating in medical and dietetic treatises of the sixteenth century and prescriptive literature, a wide range of literary works contributed to a revolution in eating and taste. In the process long held visions of food and eating, as related to social order and hierarchy, medicine, sexuality and gender, religion and morality, pleasure and the senses, were questioned, tested and overturned, and eating and its pleasures would never be the same.