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'Most rare workmen': optical practitioners in early seventeenth-century Delft

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Abstract
A special interest in optics among various seventeenth-century painters living in the Dutch city of Delft, has intrigued (art-)historians for a long time. Equally, the impressive career of the Delft microscopist Anthony van Leeuwenhoek has been studied by many historians of science. However, it has never been investigated who, at that time, had access to the mathematical and optical knowledge necessary for the impressive achievements of these Delft practitioners. We have tried to gain insight in Delft as a ‘node’ of optical knowledge by following the careers of three minor local figures in early-seventeenth-century Delft. We argue that through their work, products, discussions in the vernacular and exchange of skills, rather than via learned publications, these practitioners constituted a foundation on which the later scientific and artistic achievements of other Delft citizens were built. Our Delft case demonstrates that these practitioners were not simple and isolated craftsmen; rather they were crucial components in a network of scholars, savants, painters and rich virtuosi. Decades before Vermeer made his masterworks, or Van Leeuwenhoek started his famous microscopic investigations the intellectual atmosphere and artisanal knowledge in this city centred on optical topics.
Keywords
VERMEER, Art History, Delft, History of Science and Technology, Optics

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MLA
Zuidervaart, Huib J, and Marlise Rijks. “‘Most Rare Workmen’: Optical Practitioners in Early Seventeenth-century Delft.” BRITISH JOURNAL FOR THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE 48.1 (2015): 53–85. Print.
APA
Zuidervaart, H. J., & Rijks, M. (2015). “Most rare workmen”: optical practitioners in early seventeenth-century Delft. BRITISH JOURNAL FOR THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE, 48(1), 53–85.
Chicago author-date
Zuidervaart, Huib J, and Marlise Rijks. 2015. “‘Most Rare Workmen’: Optical Practitioners in Early Seventeenth-century Delft.” British Journal for the History of Science 48 (1): 53–85.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Zuidervaart, Huib J, and Marlise Rijks. 2015. “‘Most Rare Workmen’: Optical Practitioners in Early Seventeenth-century Delft.” British Journal for the History of Science 48 (1): 53–85.
Vancouver
1.
Zuidervaart HJ, Rijks M. “Most rare workmen”: optical practitioners in early seventeenth-century Delft. BRITISH JOURNAL FOR THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE. Camdridge University Press; 2015;48(1):53–85.
IEEE
[1]
H. J. Zuidervaart and M. Rijks, “‘Most rare workmen’: optical practitioners in early seventeenth-century Delft,” BRITISH JOURNAL FOR THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 53–85, 2015.
@article{4331987,
  abstract     = {A special interest in optics among various seventeenth-century painters living in the Dutch city of Delft, has intrigued (art-)historians for a long time. Equally, the impressive career of the Delft microscopist Anthony van Leeuwenhoek has been studied by many historians of science. However, it has never been investigated who, at that time, had access to the mathematical and optical knowledge necessary for the impressive achievements of these Delft practitioners. We have tried to gain insight in Delft as a ‘node’ of optical knowledge by following the careers of three minor local figures in early-seventeenth-century Delft. We argue that through their work, products, discussions in the vernacular and exchange of skills, rather than via learned publications, these practitioners constituted a foundation on which the later scientific and artistic achievements of other Delft citizens were built. Our Delft case demonstrates that these practitioners were not simple and isolated craftsmen; rather they were crucial components in a network of scholars, savants, painters and rich virtuosi. Decades before Vermeer made his masterworks, or Van Leeuwenhoek started his famous microscopic investigations the intellectual atmosphere and artisanal knowledge in this city centred on optical topics.},
  author       = {Zuidervaart, Huib J and Rijks, Marlise},
  issn         = {0007-0874},
  journal      = {BRITISH JOURNAL FOR THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE},
  keywords     = {VERMEER,Art History,Delft,History of Science and Technology,Optics},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {53--85},
  publisher    = {Camdridge University Press},
  title        = {'Most rare workmen': optical practitioners in early seventeenth-century Delft},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007087414000181},
  volume       = {48},
  year         = {2015},
}

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