Holding the Universe: Scientific Instruments from the Low Countries between c. 1550-1650

Sunday, March 12, 2017 | 3-4pm | 223 Moses Hall, followed by a reception

Lecture by Koenraad van Cleempoel (University of Hasselt), P.P. Rubens Professor at the UC Berkeley Department of History of Art, organized by the BENELUX Program at the Institute of European Studies in cooperation with the Dutch Studies Program

This lecture gives an introduction to the scientific instruments that were used during the sixteenth and part of the seventeenth century in the Low Countries; an age of important discoveries in astronomy and geography. Most commonly these were globes, astrolabes and armillary sphere as representations of the universe that could be handheld. Displaying a unique combination of scientific accuracy and refined craftsmanship they served several purposes: cosmographic demonstration, navigation, astronomical and astrological calculations and, equally, to decorate important libraries due to their esthetic and intellectual appeal. We will discuss their centers of production in Antwerp and Louvain during the sixteenth century and its transition to Holland during its golden age in the seventeenth century. The scientific instruments in Jan Vermeer’s double portrait of the Astronomer & Geographer (1668-69) will be compared to those in the allegory of sight (1617) by P.P. Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

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