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

 
9780226763996: The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution
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.

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About the Author:
Pamela H. Smith is the Edwin F. and Margaret Hahn Professor in the Social Sciences and associate professor of history at Pomona College. 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.
Review:
"Smith excels when reading history through artisans' paintings, sculptures, and other objects. . . . The Body of the Artisan is a fascinating and significant contribution to a more social, collective, and diversified history of scientific (and artistic) transformations in early modern Europe." (Simon Werrett Science 2004-06-11)

"What is the use of yet another book about the Renaissance? Do we need one more account of the beginnings of science? Pamela Smith's The Body of the Artisan is eloquent evidence that we do. She traces the birth of modern science, not through any dry theory of empiricism, but through the practical work of artisans over three centuries. . . . Smith argues her point effectively through images as well as text. Her choice of artisanal artifacts is more than illustration; it is essential to her assertion that intellectual history is more than just a tale of 'great thinkers.'" (Simon Ings New Scientist 2004-07-17)

"Smith's engaging study deals with neglected bodies, both those of artisans of the early modern period and that more durable corpus of the writings, paintings, and sculptures they have left to us. . . . A beautifully presented work of considerable relevance to historians of art, science, and literature."

(Eileen Reeves Renaissance Quarterly)

"In The Body of the Artisan, Pamela Smith posits artists as those who, interpreting their sensory experience of nature, created the physical works that became the first concrete investigations of early modern science. . . . As an interdisciplinary study of the development of early scientific inquiry from a particularly art historical point of view, this is a useful and necessary text."—Thomas J. Tobin, Art Documentation
(Thomas J. Tobin Art Documentation)

"[An] important story of how the combination of labor, social intercourse, and the technologies of the human body produced knowledge about nature in the early modern period." (Evelyn Lincoln Technology and Culture)

"Even if the reader does not emerge from the book with the conviction that alchemists, painters, surgeons, and ceramicists shared the same approach to nature, there is a great dealk to be said for a book that raises these issues with such verve and wealth of detail. The beautifully reproduced images alone make The Body of the Artisan worth its modest price." (William Newman Chemical Heritage)

"This book provides a cornucopia of detailed information based on primary texts. It ravishes in its details, and enlightens with its insights written in a provocative and clear style. . . . The abundant illustrations vivify the text and make the book not only a thought-provoking intellectual activity, but also a visual and sometimes an aesthetic experience. The book will appeal to a wide audience: historians and philosophers of science, art and technology. I am quite convinced that this book will be an important influence for our understanding of the scientific revolution and the interaction between science, science, technology and the arts." (Steffen Ducheyne British Journal for the History of Philosophy)

"A brilliant and beautiful book, an elegant addition to any scholar's shelf. It makes the necesary next move of bringing the recent scholarlship on science and art together by examining the influence of artisans who sustained and promoted art and science. Smith makes a powerful case for the unity of art and sceince, now disparate fields, in their early modern incarnations." (Mark A. Peterson William and Mary Quarterly)

"A rich and beautifully illustrated work that throws light on a skilled class and oft-neglected set of practices that formed part of the founding of modernity. . . . The Body of the Artisan makes an important contribution to the histories of science and art. . . . The book's accessible language and presentation make it an engaging read for a general audience and an excellent source for students of the humanities and social sciences." (Trevor H. J. Marchand Senses & Society)

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  • PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
  • Publication date2004
  • ISBN 10 0226763994
  • ISBN 13 9780226763996
  • BindingHardcover
  • Edition number1
  • Number of pages408
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