Precious Stones in Art and Nature from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment


Max Planck Research Group "Art and Knowledge in Pre-Modern Europe"

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Organized by Hannah Baader and Sean Nelson

Precious stones were a source of constant fascination for artists and natural philosophers in pre-modern Europe. Diamonds, rubies, pearls and other gems were both visually striking and rich in symbolism. They served as subjects for painters, as raw materials for jewelers and sculptors, as components in scientific instruments, and as stimuli for reflection on the nature of light, colour, and the structure of matter. Gems were hybrid objects par excellence, blurring the lines between science and art, and between theory and practice. The talks in this workshop, given by Sven Dupré and his research group, illustrate this hybridity with examples drawn from England, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. The subject matter addressed ranges from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, from astronomy to electricity, and from baroque miniature painting to rococo furniture.



Hannah Baader

Welcome and Introduction


Sven Dupré

Introduction-MPIWG Research Group "Art and Knowledge in Pre-Modern Europe"

Moderation: Hannah Baader

14:20 - 14:55

Marjolijn Bol

Gems in the Water of Eden: Traveling the Rivers of Paradise in Early Netherlandish Painting and Natural Philosophy

14:55 - 15:30

Karin Leonhard

Painted Gems: Portrait Miniature Painting and Baroque Colour Theory

15:30 - 15:50 Coffee Break

Moderation: Sean Nelson

15:50 - 16:25

Sven Dupré

Galileo's Glass: Light in the Heavens, Precious Stones on Earth

16:25 - 17:00

Michael Bycroft

The Physics of Furniture: Science and the Rococo in the Gemmological Research of Charles Dufay

17:00 Discussion

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut
Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze
Sean Nelson  


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