Materialised Knowledge in Renaissance Art and Science: The Production and Representation of Flemish Scientific Instruments
Koenraad Van Cleempoel
Scientific instruments of the renaissance period well represent the concept of "materialised knowledge." They are carriers of ideas as well as very elegant and refined objects. The lecture will discuss astrolabes, globes, sundials and armillary spheres with a particular emphasis on the Flemish context: between c. 1525 and c. 1580 the university city of Louvain became Europe's most important center for instrument making partly due to the research and technical skills of Gerard Mercator (1512-1594) and Gemma Frisius (1508-1555). This high reputation is due in equal measure to the combination of the beauty and the precision of these instruments. It is this perfect harmony of aesthetics and science that made the Louvain instruments so sought after in the European market. The lecture will also discuss their representation and meaning in contemporary paintings.
Koenraad Van Cleempoel studied art history in Louvain, Madrid and London where he received his PhD at the Warburg Institute. He was Sackler Fellow at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich where he catalogued their collection of astrolabes (Oxford UP) and research fellow at the Institute for the History of Science, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main. Scientific instruments of the Latin West between c. 1400 and 1650 are his field of research. In recent years he also published on adaptive reuse of heritage sites. He is professor in art history and vice dean at the Faculty of Architecture in Hasselt University (Belgium).