I am researcher at the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences). I wrote a dissertation on the notion of the ‘Book of Nature’ in early modern Dutch culture, a subject which was basically about the relation between science and religion, but which of course touched upon the issue of visibility. Since then, I have become fascinated by the relation between ‘art’ and ‘science’, more specifically the issue of visualizing knowledge: for example in drawings, paintings, prints, anatomical theatres and cabinets of curiosities. I am very much interested in the related issue of the circulation of knowledge, both on a micro-level (anatomist-draftsman-engraver, for example) and on more geographical scale (Grand Tours, contacts between ‘hubs’ like Antwerp and Amsterdam and, later, between the Dutch Republic and England). I will have the pleasure of being a visiting scholar to the Courtauld Institute in the academic year 2012-2013. Besides teaching together with Joanna Woodall a MA ‘Visualizing Knowledge in the Early Modern Netherlands’, this stay will enable me to do more research into Anglo-Dutch scientific and artistic relations. The Sloane-collection seems a particularly rewarding source.
I am currently finishing a biography of Johannes Swammerdam (1637-1680) who, as is well known, was one of the pioneers of microscopy. Less known is the fact that he was an extremely talented draftsman himself, who had outspoken ideas of the epistemological value of illustrations. In some of the illustrations in his Historia insectorum generalis (1669), Swammerdam went into a visual dialogue with Robert Hooke. Moreover, Swammerdam sent some of his research reports (including drawings), as well a anatomical specimens to the Royal Society.
(Together with B. Ramakers eds,) Art and Science in the Early Modern Low Countries. Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art/Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 61 (Zwolle 2011).
Reading the Book of Nature in the Dutch Golden Age, 1575-1715. Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History 191. Translated by Peter Mason (Leiden 2010).
‘Sloane and the Dutch Connection (Nicolaes Witsen, Frederik Ruysch, Levinus Vincent, Maria Sybila Merian and Herman Boerhaave)’, in: M. Hunter and A. Walker eds, From Books to Bezoars. Selected papers from a an international conference devoted to Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), physician, naturalist and collector, London 7-8 June 2010 (Londen, in press).
‘In the Twilight Zone. Isaac Vossius and the Scientific Communities in France, England and the Dutch Republic’ in: E. Jorink and D. van Miert eds., Isaac Vossius (1618-1689) Between Science and Scholarship. Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History 214 (Leiden 2012).
‘Noah’s Ark Restored (and Wrecked): Dutch Collectors, Natural History and the Problem of Biblical Exegesis’ in: S. Dupré and C. Lüthy eds, Silent Messengers. The Circulation of Material Objects of Knowledge in the Early Modern Low Countries (Berlijn etc., 2011) 153-184.
‘Between emblematics and the argument from design. The representation of insects in the Dutch Republic’ in: K.A.E. Enenkel, E.E.P. Kolfin and P.J. Smith eds., Early modern zoology: The construction of animals in science, literature and the visual arts. Intersections: Yearbook for Early Modern Studies 7 (Leiden 2007) 147-175.