The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution / Edition 1

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Overview

"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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Editorial Reviews

Science - Simon Werrett

"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."
New Scientist - Simon Ings

"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.'"
Renaissance Quarterly - Eileen Reeves

"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."
Art Documentation - Thomas J. Tobin

"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
Technology and Culture - Evelyn Lincoln

"[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."
Chemical Heritage - William Newman

"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."
British Journal for the History of Philosophy - Steffen Ducheyne

"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."
William and Mary Quarterly - Mark A. Peterson

"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."
American Historical Association - Leo Gershoy Prize

"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."

Senses & Society - Trevor H. J. Marchand

"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."
Science
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

New Scientist
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

Renaissance Quarterly
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

Art Documentation
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

Technology and Culture
[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

Chemical Heritage
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

British Journal for the History of Philosophy
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

William and Mary Quarterly
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

American Historical Association
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.

— Leo Gershoy Prize

Senses & Society
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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226764238
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 408
  • Sales rank: 439,577
  • Product dimensions: 8.75 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet 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.
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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Flanders
1 The artisanal world 31
Pt. 2 South German cities
2 Artisanal epistemology 59
3 The body of the artisan 95
4 Artisanship, alchemy, and a vernacular science of matter 129
Pt. 3 The Dutch Republic
5 The legacy of Paracelsus : practitioners and new philosophers 155
6 The institutionalization of the new philosophy 183
Conclusion : toward a history of vernacular science 237
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