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Fantastic Observations: Images of Insects in Early Modern Europe
  • Janice Neri, University of California, Irvine
This dissertation examines images of insects in a number of contexts---natural history, manuscript illumination, microscopy, textile design and cabinets of curiosity---as a means of understanding how images participated in the construction of nature in early modern Europe. The project also considers how concepts of truth and accuracy in visual images were established and sustained among artistic and scientific communities during the period 1550--1700. In the dissertation I argue for the mutually constituted relationship between images and the natural world; rather than simply creating images that reflected nature, image-makers such as Joris Hoefnagel, Ulisse Aldrovandi, Thomas Moffet, Robert Hooke and Maria Sibylla Merian actively participated in defining the content and scope of the natural world for themselves and their audiences. Images that to modern eyes might seem to be straightforward "descriptions" were for early modern Europeans both new and complexly constructed ways of understanding the world.
Publication Date
Field of study
Visual Studies
Art History
George Bauer, Linda Bauer, Anne Friedberg, and Amy Meyers
Citation Information
Janice Neri. "Fantastic Observations: Images of Insects in Early Modern Europe" (2003)
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