An exhibit themed around the engraving from book II of Kircher’s Ars Magna Sciendi (1669), which graces the she-philosopher.com front door page.
The image raises a range of issues about the allegorical use of the female form by scientists, artists, institutions, and nation-states during the early modern period.
An exhibit themed around the emblematic frontispiece to Ars Magna Sciendi (1669), a detail from which establishes the concept for the PLAYERS pages on Athanasius Kircher.
Here, the scientist’s search for the sacred is personified by the Divine Sophia. In the beginning of his book, Kircher writes: “Plato said, ‘Nothing is more divine than to know everything,’ sagely and elegantly, for just as Knowledge illuminates the mind, refines the intellect and pursues universal truths, so out of the love of beautiful things it quickly conceives and then gives birth to a daughter, Wisdom, the explorer of the loftiest matters, who, passing far beyond the limits of human joy, joins her own to the Angelic Choruses, and borne before the Ultimate Throne of Divinity, makes them consorts and possessors of Divine Nature.”
CAT. 12 and CAT. 13
An exhibit on the Ferrar map of Virginia, in its three states (1650, 1651, 1653), which as far as I know, was the first map to be published by a woman cartographer (the 1653 engraving is signed Domina Virginia Farrer Collegit.).
An exhibit on an arborial evocation of melancholy, in the Rudolfine spirit, by Roelandt Savery.
Savery was less a realist than a poetic creator of imagined landscapes characterized by agitated foliage, dense forests, and terrifying vistas. His art transformed familiar landscape motifs into mysteries suited to an “imaginative and melancholy dreamer.”
Savery’s picturing of human melancholy in terms of twisted roots and knobby tree trunks reveals another layer in the evolving conversation between science & art during the early modern period. The linkage of trees with the human psyche is an extremely long one, and rooted in European mystical traditions inherited from the Middle Ages.