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ARTECHNE – Technique in the Arts, 1500-1950


Just Published: ‘Working (with) the Corps. The Body of Sands, Colors, and Varnishes in Ms. Fr. 640’, co-authored by Jenny Boulboullé & Maartje Stols-Witlox

Working (with) the Corps. The Body of Sands, Colors, and Varnishes in Ms. Fr. 640, an essay co-authored by dr. Jenny Boulboullé and  dr. Maartje Stols-Witlox, is now online! It is a contribution to the digital publication Secrets of Craft and Nature in Renaissance France. A Digital Critical Edition and English Translation of BnF Ms. Fr. 640 and is published by the Making and Knowing Project.

The essay traces the use of the term corps in Ms. Fr. 640, investigating its occurrence, meaning, and translation. While the term—which literally translates as “body”—seems straightforward to understand, at first sight, close reading and comparison with contemporary sources and dictionaries reveal its complex web of meaning. Reconstructions underscore this fact and allow insight into the polysemic qualities of corps. Employing concepts from linguistics and anthropology, we argue that the author-practitioner employed corps as a rich linguistic strategy that allowed him to navigate the fields of practice and theory, to document or communicate aspects of artistic practice that would otherwise remain ineffable.


dr. Jenny Boulboullé and dr. Maartje Stols-Witlox are members of the ERC Artechne research group (2016–2020) and have received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (grant agreement no. 648718). Jenny Boulboullé was a Making and Knowing Project Postdoctoral Scholar, 2014–2016.