Anatomy and the Organization of Knowledge

I’m delighted to have an essay in this new volume from Pickering & Chatto, “Anatomy, Newtonian Physiology and Learned Culture: The Myotomia Reformata and its Context within Georgian Scholarship.” Many thanks to the editors, Matthew Landers and Brian Muñoz, for all their hard work. -CH

Matthew Landers and Brian Muñoz, eds., Anatomy and the Organization of Knowledge, 1500–1850 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2012), 272 pages, ISBN: 978-1848933217, £60/$99.

Across early modern Europe, the growing scientific practice of dissection prompted new and insightful ideas about the human body. This collection of essays explores the impact of anatomical knowledge on wider issues of learning and culture. The contributors argue that the study of anatomy directly influenced the way in which emerging disciplines of study were organized.

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Introduction – Matthew Landers

Part I: The Body as a Map
1 Early Modern Dissection and a Physical Model of Organization – Matthew Landers
2 ‘Who Will Not Force a Mad Man to be Let Blood?’ Circulation and Trade in the Early Eighteenth Century – Amy Witherbee
3 Earth’s Intelligent Body: Subterranean Systems and the Circulation of Knowledge, or, The Radius Subtending Circumnavigation – Kevin L Cope
4 ‘After and Unwonted Manner’: Anatomy and Poetical Organization in Early Modern England – Mauro Spicci
5 Subtle Bodies: The Limits of Categories in Girolamo Cardano’s De subtilitate – Sarah Parker

Part II: The Collective Body
6 Mirroring, Anatomy, Transparency: The Collective Body and the Co-opted Individual in Spencer, Hobbes and Bunyan – Nick Davis
7 From Human to Political Body and Soul: Materialism and Mortalism in the Political Theory of Thomas Hobbes – Ionut Untea
8 Visualizing the Fibre-Woven Body: Nehemiah Grew’s Plant Anatomy and the Emergence of the Fibre Body – Hisao Ishizuka
9 Forms of Materialist Embodiment – Charles T Wolfe

Part III: Bodies Visualized
10 Visualizing Monsters: Anatomy as a Regulatory System – Touba Ghadessi
11 Anatomy, Newtonian Physiology and Learned Culture: The Myotomia Reformata and its Context within Georgian Scholarship – Craig Ashley Hanson
12 Art and Medicine: Creative Complicity between Artistic Representation and Research – Filippo Pierpaolo Marino
13 The Internal Environment: Claude Bernard’s Concept and its Representation in Fantastic VoyageJérôme Goffette and Jonathan Simon

New Role as a Field Editor at

The following posting first appeared at Enfilade, on 20 September 2012:

I am thrilled to announce that I’ll be stepping in as the new field editor for Eighteenth-Century Art at, succeeding Laura Auricchio who has brilliantly filled the position since 2007. I am especially grateful to both Laura and the editor-in-chief of, Sheryl Reiss, for all they’ve done to facilitate what, I hope, will be a smooth transition.

Published by the College Art Association, plays a valuable role for the scholarly community, keeping a pulse on art historical discourse but also — crucially, to my thinking — helping shape that discourse with more reviews and more timely reviews than would have ever been possible from CAA’s paper-based publications. As I’ve often said in my capacity as editor at Enfilade, I now say in this new role as a editor: the success of the publication depends upon you, the readers. I’ll do my best to invite thoughtful, engaged responses to a selection of the most striking and substantive scholarship addressing the eighteenth century, to give you good cause to keep reading. While promising neither revolutions (glorious or otherwise) nor sweeping societal enlightenment — certainly no guarantees regarding the sublime — I can affirm that I approach the position as an amateur, in the best sense of the eighteenth-century designation, as one who finds much to love in this period, a period as central as ever for grappling with questions of what it means to be human, what it means to make and use art, what it means to be modern, and what it means to address the past productively.

-Craig Ashley Hanson

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Founded in 1998, publishes timely scholarly and critical reviews of studies and projects in all areas and periods of art history, visual studies, and the fine arts, providing peer review for the disciplines served by the College Art Association. Publications and projects reviewed include books, articles, exhibitions, conferences, and other works as appropriate. It also publishes essays on these subjects, as well as on art education and policy and related topics. In reviewing and publishing recent texts and projects, fosters timely, worldwide access to the intellectual and creative materials and issues of art-historical, critical, curatorial, and studio practice, and promotes the highest standards of discourse in the disciplines of art and art history. The journal is published on a continual basis by the College Art Association. Access to is a benefit of membership in the College Art Association. For details about becoming a CAA member, please visit CAA’s membership pages.

Histories of British Art Conference at York

Histories of British Art, 1660-1735
The King’s Manor, University of York, 20-22 September 2012

In connection with the third conference for the Court, Country, City: British Art 1660-1735 research project, I returned to the subject of Owen McSwiny’s British Worthies project in connection with Goodwood and the related prints.

It was an especially stimulating conference with keynote presentations by Malcolm Baker, Diana Dethloff, Charles Ford, and David Solkin. The only real frustration came with trying to decide which of the concurrent panels to attend. An embarrassment of riches, to be sure. An afternoon outing to Beningbrough Hall and a jovial conference dinner capped off my three fine days in charming York.

Thursday, 20 September, 3:00
Panel 1: Netherlandish Influences on British Art  
• Sander Karst (Vereniging Rembrandt) — ‘The Participation of Dutch Migrant Artists in the London Art Market at the End of the Seventeenth Century’
• Karen Hearn (Tate Britain) — ‘Constructing Physical Perfection? Patches, Squints and Spots in Late Seventeenth-Century British and Netherlandish Portraits’
• Craig Hanson (Calvin College), ‘Looking to the Lowlands: Anglo-Dutch Relations and Artistic Continuities in the Decades after 1688’

Attingham Royal Collection Studies

This past Tuesday I became the 500th alumnus of the Attingham Royal Collection Studies program! Well, approximately so, anyway, as the 29 members of the 2012 class collectively pushed past the 500-mark.

The Attingham Trust for the Study of Historic Houses and Collections was founded in 1952, at a time when the fate of Britain’s country houses looked dire indeed. At the center of the Trust’s activities has always been the Summer School, a three-week course dedicated to the exploration of some of England’s most important houses, along with their furnishing and gardens. Each year the course attracts a widely varied group of participants, primarily British and American, though the European Continent is also well represented. Classes generally are comprised of curators, conservators, architects, interior designers, garden designers, art and antiques dealers, professors, and graduate students. I was fortunate enough to do the Summer School in 1999 as a student at Chicago (as well as a special program to the Netherlands in 2010).

For the past seventeen years, Attingham has also administered the Royal Collection Studies in cooperation with The Royal Collection and Historic Royal Palaces. Based at Windsor, the 12-day course moves chronologically from Edward the Confessor to the Modern Era, with particular attention paid at the end to George IV and Queen Victoria. Director of the Royal Collection, Jonathan Marsden; director of the RCS program, Giles Waterfield; and the RCS administrator, Sara Heaton all deserve dukedoms for their extraordinary work.

Site visits (often outside of regular public visiting hours) to Windsor, Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the Banqueting House at Whitehall, Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, Frogmore House, and Buckingham Palace were supplemented with lectures on topics ranging from the medieval court to George IV’s Carlton House. Tours of key libraries, the royal archives, and conservation studios reinforced the richness of the Royal Collection’s holdings. Accommodations at Cumberland Lodge, a seventeenth-century house in Windsor Great Park, just a few miles from the Castle, in the middle of the medieval deer park, were exceptional, the perfect setting for the course.

I learned a lot — particularly about the earliest activities at Westminster (ca. 1100-1250) and the founding of the Order of the Garter under Edward III in 1348. Lots of things that I knew in a piecemeal fashion were finally fitted into a more coherent and comprehensive story. The extent of George IV’s commitment to the decorative arts in the early nineteenth century was made abundantly clear. And as for the period of my own expertise, I’m left with lots of ideas, more things to read, and lists of questions to pursue.

The course would not have been possible for me were it not for two crucial conditions: a sabbatical from my regular teaching responsibilities and a generous scholarship from Stewart Rosenblum, administered through The American Friends of Attingham. I’m extremely grateful for both.

Keynote Address for AAH Summer Symposium

Art and Science: Knowledge, Creation and Discovery
The Linnean Society, London, 28-29 June 2012

Yesterday, I was honored to provide one of the keynote addresses at the AAH Student Symposium, held at The Linnean Society, Burlington House (with tea and lunch served in the Society’s library, pictured to the left). With this year’s theme on Art and Science: Knowledge, Creation and Discovery, I spoke on “Anglo-Dutch Anatomical Illustrations and the Circle of Dr. Richard Mead, ca. 1724.” Adding to the excitement for me was the fact that just on Tuesday I discovered a group of the original drawings of the images I was discussing from William Cowper (thanks to the very generous direction of Kim Sloan at the The British Museum). The conference continues today with more student talks and a keynote presentation by Dr. Petra Lange-Berndt of UCL.

This incredibly productive and pleasurable trip comes to an end on Sunday, though I’m even more excited to get home than I was to arrive.

London 2012

I’m in London for seven weeks this summer thanks to generous support from The Paul Mellon Centre for British Studies. In addition to researching Anglo-Dutch relations, I’m finding plenty to see and do in terms of exhibitions and conferences.

Earlier this week, on Tuesday (Oak Apple Day as it turned out), I went along for an excellent walking tour of the site of the former Vauxhall Gardens, led by David Coke and organized by The Vauxhall Society. This crucial site — currently the subject of an exhibition, curated by Coke, at The Foundling Museum — has long been for me an ephemeral space. I knew it was hugely important, but because it no longer exists and because so many of the paintings from the gardens no longer exist, I had trouble conceptualizing it as a reality. Well, after two hours with the delightful Dr. Coke, Vauxhall Gardens not only now makes sense to me but registers as a tangible place that must have been sensational for eighteenth-century visitors. I’m grateful to Stacey Sloboda for mentioning the tour to me. I’m also happy to recommend the cake at the charming Tea House Theatre!

Yesterday, I was privileged to be included in an exciting workshop on Sloane’s Treasures at the British Museum. It was one of three sessions funded by an AHRC ‘Science in Culture’ Exploratory Award to develop future cross-disciplinary research projects on Sloane’s collection. As described at The British Museum’s website, the project addresses

specific issues such as: methods of transcribing, digitizing and cataloguing Sloane’s own manuscript catalogues of his collections of natural history, cultural objects and books; the potential not only for academic research but also for diverse public engagement, access and understanding; new ways of using new technology to reconstruct and reconnect the past across the sciences and humanities. This project is an initial exploratory phase of a much larger future research project, Reconstructing Sloane, which eventually aims to digitize and catalogue his collections across the three institutions and even further to identify and link Sloane’s networks of contacts, in order to help us understand how knowledge was formed and exchanged through objects in the early modern world and the implications this has for us today.

Next week, I’m planning to attend the The Making of a Modern Monarchy Conference at Kensington Palace (June 6-8), and in two weeks, the conference Curiously Drawn: Early Modern Science as a Visual Pursuit takes place at the Royal Society (June 21-22). Throw in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (with a flotilla of historic boats, including a newly built barge inspired by eighteenth-century sources) along with several more first-rate exhibitions — Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist at the Queen’s Gallery, The Horse: From Arabia to Royal Ascot at The British Museum, and The English Prize: Capture of the Westmorland at the Ashmolean in Oxford — and there’s no shortage of intellectual stimulation!

Conference | Zoffany’s International Contexts

On Monday, I’ll be participating in a one-day conference in London on the international contexts of John Zoffany. The conference accompanies the exhibition now on at the Royal Academy of Arts, John Zoffany, RA: Society Observed. I’m thrilled to be included and look forward to both the exhibition and what promises to be a fabulous day of talks. I’ll be speaking on “Zoffany’s Virtuosic Ambitions and the Theatre of Natural History.”

Note (added 1 June 2012) — The exhibition is stunning, and the conference was interesting for lots of reasons. In discussing some of the ways we might fit Zoffany into the world of science practitioners in the 1760s (the crucial decade in which he initially forged his career in London), I was especially glad for an opportunity to acknowledge the recent discovery of information (included in Martin Postle’s entry for the exhibition catalogue, pp. 227-28), clarifying the identify of the central figure in Zoffany’s Optician with an Attendance. While it doesn’t undo the new emphasis I try to impart to the picture with my recent article for Eighteenth-Century Fiction, it’s an important revision. As I said in my presentation:

In addition to supplying a new conception of Zoffany’s position in the history of art broadly, research for the exhibition has also cleared up any number of small questions. Such as what to call this painting from the Royal Collection. Shown by Zoffany at the Royal Academy in 1772, it was then described as An Optician with His Attendant. Since around 1800 when an inventory of Kew Palace was made, the name of John Cuff, an optical instrument maker, has been attached to the picture, though for a while it was also thought to depict a subsequent competitor in the field of lenses, a member of the Dollond family. And lately there’s been a growing trend among scholars to discount both suggestions, treating the work instead as a kind of genre picture rather than a portrait with a particular sitter. Putting it like that sounds awfully scholarly and credible. The rub, I’m afraid, is for me less so. For I was among those scholars, publishing an article just last year on the subject. While I think I managed to convince at least myself that the picture could not possibly portray Dollond, I made a great deal of the obstacles in accepting it as a picture of Cuff, too, stressing (among other concerns) that someone should have recognized and described it as such in the 1770s. While acknowledging a scenario in which new primary source material would verify Cuff as the sitter, I suggested other ways of making sense of the painting.

In fact, as detailed in Martin Postle’s entry on it for the catalogue, new source material has turned up. And so we read in The Middlesex Journal, from 1772, that “Mr. Zoffani has sold his picture of the Royal Academics to a Great Personage [King George III] for the sum of five hundred guineas; and his piece of Mr. Cuff, the Optician, at work in his shop, to Lord Grosvenor, for two hundred pounds.” While one regrets, naturally enough, being mistaken, I have to say that this news comes for me as a relief. For by the end of writing that article, I wanted this to be Cuff. For reasons I’ll explain in just a moment, there’s a small justice done in getting this identification correct. . .

Johan Zoffany, Samuel Foote as Dr. Hellebore and Thomas
Weston as Last in ‘The Devil Upon Two Sticks’, 1768

From The Paul Mellon Centre:

Johan Zoffany and His International Contexts
Burlington House, London, 14 May 2012

The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, will be co-hosting a conference on Monday, May 14, 2012, to accompany a major exhibition on the eighteenth-century Anglo-German artist Johan Zoffany (1733–1810). The exhibition, Johan Zoffany RA: Society Observed, is curated by Martin Postle (Paul Mellon Centre), with Gillian Forrester (Yale Center for British Art) and MaryAnne Stevens (Royal Academy); it was on view at the Yale Center for British Art from October 27, 2011, to February 12, 2012, and can be seen at the Royal Academy from March 10 to June 10, 2012. The conference aims to address Zoffany’s art in the context of four locations that were central to his practice: Germany, England, Italy, and India.

Born in Frankfurt in 1733, Johan Zoffany trained as an artist in Germany and Italy. In 1760 he moved to London, where he adapted brilliantly to the indigenous art culture and patterns of patronage, creating virtuoso portraits and subject pictures that proved to be highly desirable to a wide range of patrons. Of all the major artists working in eighteenth-century England, none explored more inventively the complexities of Georgian society and British imperial rule than Zoffany. Yet, despite achieving considerable success there, he remained in many ways an outsider, looking dispassionately at British society. Resisting complete integration into his adopted country, Zoffany traveled for extended periods in Europe and spent six years in northern India. His body of work offers unique perspectives on key British and European institutions, including the art academy, the royal court, the theatre, and the families of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie. In India, Zoffany constructed new idioms for portraying the emerging colonial society in both public and private spheres, as well providing a nuanced account of the complex network of power relations, race, and culture at a critical moment in British imperial history.

Tickets for the conference and a conference program (pdf, 109 kb) are now available (also see below). To purchase tickets, and for further details about how to register, please visit the Paul Mellon Centre, London.

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