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Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

$ 60.00

This publication is out of print and no longer available through the Harvard Art Museums Shop. 

eBook available on the Art & Architecture Portal

Winner, International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA) 2012 Book Award

An unusual collaboration among distinguished art historians, historians of science, and their students, this book demonstrates how printmakers of the Northern Renaissance, far from merely illustrating the ideas of others, contributed to scientific investigations of their time. Hans Holbein, for instance, worked with cosmographers and instrument makers on some of the earliest sundial manuals published; Albrecht Dürer produced the first printed maps of the constellations, which astronomers copied for over a century; and Hendrick Goltzius’s depiction of the muscle-bound Hercules served as a study aid for students of anatomy.

Accompanying an exhibition organized by the Harvard Art Museums with objects from repositories across Europe and North America, the book offers brilliant reproductions of woodcuts, engravings, and etchings; maps, globe gores, and globes; multilayered anatomical “flap” prints; and paper scientific instruments used for observation and measurement. Among the “do-it-yourself” paper instruments were sundials and astrolabes, and the book incorporates a facsimile of globe gores for the reader to cut out and assemble.

Susan Dackerman is Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Curator of Prints at the Harvard Art Museums; Lorraine Daston is Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science; Claudia Swan is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Art History, Northwestern University; Suzanne Karr Schmidt is Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in Prints and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago; Katharine Park is Samuel Zemurray, Jr. and Doris Zemurray Stone Radcliffe Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University.

Research Tool: Explore digital facsimiles and see how original prints were used in the 16th century: “construct” terrestrial and celestial globes, flip through layers of human anatomy, and learn how to make your own botanical impressions at

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