Between Libraries and Museums. Housing the Early Modern Drawing Album

Genevieve Warwick

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This is a commissioned essay for a volume arising from a larger research project on the role of drawing in early modern knowledge production funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. The volume is concerned with connections across arts and sciences in the age of Galileo's ‘scientific revolution’ mediated by the instrumental role of drawing as the recording mechanism of all forms of visual observation in a pre-photographic age. An early modern scientific method based on observation, experiment, and demonstration arose alongside the great expansion of paper production of the late fifteenth century driven by the Renaissance invention of the printing press. A plentiful supply of paper fed both book publishing and drawing as inter-related early modern methods of knowledge circulation. Thus the great early modern encyclopaedias of visual knowledge, whether documents of archaeology or botany, were executed by means of drawings by teams of young artists who recorded specimens of history and science, then collated into ‘paper museums’.
This essay’s point of departure is to observe that, throughout the early modern period, drawings were kept in albums, as books, and on library shelves. Whether as reference books in princely libraries or artists’ studios, drawings were organised by subject matter and mounted into leather-bound volumes for purposes of conservation and ease of consultation. From the nineteenth-century foundation of public museums, drawings were increasingly removed from the albums in which they were once housed for the purposes of exhibition display, such that their earlier history within book culture has been largely lost from historical view. The purpose of the essay is to bring together the historical evidence of the drawing’s once book-like status into an overarching analysis, to open up a new interdisciplinary field of study on the place of graphic cultures within the history of the book.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOrdnen Vergleichen Erzählen: Materialität, kennerschaftliche Praxis und Wissensvermittlung in Klebebanden des 17. und 18 Jahrhunderts
EditorsElisabeth Oy-Marra
Place of PublicationGermany
PublisherAd picturam
Number of pages23
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Aug 2022
EventRenaissance Society of America Toronto 2019 - Sheraton Centre / University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 16 Mar 201919 Mar 2019


ConferenceRenaissance Society of America Toronto 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • drawings albums
  • book cultures
  • early modern


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