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CANCELED: Faber Lecture: The Art and Nature of Glass: A Material in the History of Knowledge

Sven Dupré, Utrecht University; University of Amsterdam

April 22, 2020 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 010 East Pyne

Renaissance and Early Modern Studies; Eberhard L. Faber 1915 Memorial Fund in the Humanities Council
Glass Bowl

Today, glass is ubiquitous, from window glass to tableware, and from eyeglasses to glass fibres. This lecture will reflect on the opportunities of a focus on one material – glass – in writing the history of knowledge. Such a history cuts across the worlds of art, science, craft and technology, and across the various properties of glass as a material: its malleability when it is hot, its translucency and brilliant colours, its transparency which allows us to look through it, and its fragility and brittleness. One theme is how important imitation has been to the development of glass; not just the imitation of historical glass and techniques, but the imitation of nature. The visual qualities of translucency, light and colour just mentioned were the most important elements in the description of gemstones as well as in the description of their imitations in several crafts, especially glass-making, since Antiquity. However, the other way around, the art of glass-making had a major impact on our knowledge of nature. This lecture will show how the making of glass is closely intertwined with the way we experience and know the world. Without glass, we would live in a different world and certainly understand it less.

Sven Dupré is Professor of History of Art, Science and Technology and Head of Art History at Utrecht University and the University of Amsterdam. He directs the ARTECHNE project on ‘Technique in the Arts: Concepts, Practices, Expertise, 1500-1950’, supported by the European Research Council (ERC). Previously he was Professor of History of Knowledge at the Freie Universität and Director of the Research Group ‘Art and Knowledge in Premodern Europe’ at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. In Spring 2015 he was Robert H. Smith Scholar in Residence for Renaissance Sculpture in Context at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Recent publications include: Gems in the Early Modern World: Materials, Knowledge and Global Trade, 1450-1800 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), and Knowledge and Discernment in the Early Modern Arts (Routledge, 2017).

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