ARTECHNE – Technique in the Arts, 1500-1950


17 September 2019
15:30 - 17:00
Drift 21, Sweelinckzaal (0.05), Utrecht

CANCELLED: Descartes Centre Colloquium: Bridging Philosophy and Art Theory in Early Modern Low Countries

Phantasia and inventio – Bridging Philosophy and Art Theory in Early Modern Low Countries


In the last decades historical scholarship on artistic imagination has convincingly shown the indebtedness of Northern painting to both the classical rhetorical theory and the Italian Renaissance. Consequently, art theoretical texts produced in early modern Italy and France have been the subject of increasing scrutiny, while little attention has been paid to the development of conceptions of the image-forming faculty of the mind, or phantasia, in the Netherlands. Additionally, during their survey of the history of the imagination, scholars have proceeded along separate disciplinary tracks, with insufficient integration between specific areas of inquiry, including the history of art and the histories of philosophy, science and medicine. My project addresses both historiographic shortcomings with the purpose of understanding to what extent ideas of imagination and inventio, which circulated within and across intellectual milieux and among artists in their studios, contributed to shape the Netherlandish canon. It also questions the impact that Neostoicism and Paracelsianism might have had on the ways Northern artists conceived their creative process and visual production.

Short bio

Teresa Esposito (Junior Fellow Descartes Centre) studied Art History at the universities of Naples and Leuven (2005-2010). She received her PhD in Art History from Ghent University in 2018, with a dissertation entitled Peter Paul Rubens and the Distribution of Secret Knowledge in Antwerp and Italy. Previously she worked as a research assistant at the Rubens House in Antwerp where she contributed to several exhibitions (Room for Art in Seventeenth-Century Antwerp, 2009-10; Palazzo Rubens: the Master as Architect, 2011). Her research is at the crossroads of art history, the history of science, and philosophy in the early modern period, with a particular focus on the Low Countries. She is a member of the Sarton Centre for History of Science at Ghent University and is currently a visiting scholar at the Rubenianum, Antwerp. Her first monograph investigating Rubens’s attitude towards natural philosophy and the so-called ‘occult sciences’ is forthcoming (under contract, Brepols Publishers). She published in several international peer-reviewed journals as well as in journals aimed at a larger audience of non-experts.

Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 

Utrecht University 

Drift 6 room 2.04 

3512 BS Utrecht 

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