The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution

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9780226764238: The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution
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In The Body of the Artisan, Pamela H. Smith demonstrates how much early modern science owed to an unlikely source: artists and artisans. Goldsmiths, locksmiths, carpenters, and painters were all sought after by early scientists for their intimate, hands-on knowledge of natural materials, as well as their ability to manipulate them. Drawing on a fascinating array of new evidence from northern Europe, and including nearly 200 images of artisans’ objects alongside their writings, The Body of the Artisan convincingly demonstrates that artisans viewed knowledge as thoroughly rooted in matter and nature. The Body of the Artisan provides astonishingly vivid examples of this Renaissance synergy among art, craft, and science, recovering a forgotten episode of the Scientific Revolution—an episode that forever altered the way we see the natural world, and science too. 

“A fascinating and significant contribution to a more social, collective, and diversified history of scientific (and artistic) transformations.”—Simon Werrett, Science

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Since the time of Aristotle, the making of knowledge and the making of objects have generally been considered separate enterprises. Yet during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the two became linked through a "new" philosophy known as science. In The Body of the Artisan, Pamela H. Smith demonstrates how much early modern science owed to an unlikely source-artists and artisans.

From goldsmiths to locksmiths and from carpenters to painters, artists and artisans were much sought after by the new scientists for their intimate, hands-on knowledge of natural materials and the ability to manipulate them. Drawing on a fascinating array of new evidence from northern Europe including artisans' objects and their writings, Smith shows how artisans saw all knowledge as rooted in matter and nature. With nearly two hundred images, The Body of the Artisan provides astonishingly vivid examples of this Renaissance synergy among art, craft, and science, and recovers a forgotten episode of the Scientific Revolution-an episode that forever altered the way we see the natural world.

About the Author:

Pamela H. Smith is professor of history at Columbia University. She is the author of The Business of Alchemy: Science and Culture in the Holy Roman Empire and coeditor of Merchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science, and Art in Early Modern Europe.

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