Giants of Delft: Johannes Vermeer and the Natural Philosophers:

Robert D. Huerta

The Parallel Search for Knowledge during the Age of Discovery

2003
156 pages
$49.50
ISBN 1611481792
LC 2002151834

"an informed and inventive synthesis [...] a superb summary and introduction to [a] borderline area of art and science during the Scientific Revolution."
--- David Topper in Leonardo Reviews

" A lively, authoritative, and intelligent interdisciiplinary study of how knowledge is processed visually and articulated verbally...highly recommended."
---Amy Golahny in Choice, November 2003

Huerta's book is "beautiful" and his argument quite "convincing."
---Kees Zandvliet, Director, Department of Dutch History, Rijksmuseum. Quoted in Imago Mundi, 2004

Bucknell University Press congratulates Mr. Huerta on Giants of Delft's selection as one of six finalists considered for the prestigious 2004 Mitchell Prize for Art History. The Mitchell Prize of $10,000 is awarded biannually for a book in the English language which has made a major contribution to the history of art. Administered by the Burlington Magazine in London, Giants of Delft was among 180 nominations from around the world, from a variety of presses, including Yale University, Cambridge University, Princeton, MIT, and the University of California.

In this interdisciplinary study drawing on the history of art and the history of science, Robert D. Huerta explores the conceptual intersections in the work of the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer and the microscopist Antony van Leeuwenhock, within the broader relationships between painting and science during the seventeenth century.

In a widely researched and deeply considered book, Huerta argues that Vermeer's use of the camera obscura and other instrumental adjuncts paralells van Leeuwenhoek's pursuit of the "optical way," and embodies a profound philosophical connection between these investigators. Analyzing Vermeer's work, Huerta shows that the artist's choices were the result of his personal response to contemporary scientific discoveries, and the work of men such as van Leeuwenhoek, Christiaan Huygens, and Galileo Galilei. Furthermore, Huerta compares Vermeer's program of informed observation to the methods used by van Leeuwenhoek and other scientists to accumulate and analyze instrument-mediated knowledge. This approach enabled Fermeer to confront the same issues as natural Philosophers regarding the interpretation of unfamiliar images presented by instrumental systems.

Giants of Delft, Johannes Vermeer and the Natural Philosophers: The Parallel Search for Knowledge during the Age of Discovery is a timely and original contribution to the history of perspective and the knowledge of early-modern culture and science.

About the author:

Robert D. Huerta, a graduate of Stanford University and The George Washington University School of Law, has long been fascinated by the work of Johannes Vermeer. This book is the result of years of reflection on the creative commonalities to be found in signal art and pioneering scientific discoveries.

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