A Catalogue Raisonne of Scientific Instruments from the Louvain School: 1530 to 1600

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Brepols, 2002 - History - 284 pages
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This object-based study concentrates on scientific instruments made in Louvain between c. 1530 and c.1600, a period in which the university fell from the peak of its importance into a state of decline. The instruments are characterised by elaborate decoration and by numerous technical innovations. The book comprises two parts: an introduction followed by a catalogue raisonne of almost ninety instruments from the Louvain masters, both signed and unsigned ones. The introduction outlines the circumstances of the foundation of this 'Louvain school of instrument makers', which entailed the merging of an intellectual center (based in the university) and a material culture (based in the workshops). A similar symbiosis occurred elsewhere in Europe, but never on the scale of Louvain. The presence of the Spanish Court in Brussels around 1540-1550 helped to provide the workshops with important commissions. Their role as a Maecenas is also discussed. The most important instrument makers were Gerard Mercator, Michael Piquer, Gualterus Arsenius, Adrian Descrolieres and Adrian Zeelst. Little was previously known about these men - apart perhaps from Mercator - and even less about the output of their workshops. This book attempts to present for the first time a comprehensive survey of these workshops and how they may have influenced one another. This object-based study concentrates on scientific instruments made in Louvain between c. 1530 and c. 1600, a period in which the university fell from the peak of its importance into a state of decline. "Zijn studie opent de weg naar verder studie van wetenschappelijke instrumenten van andere oorsprong en andere tijdperken." (...) "De rijk geillustreerde Catalogue Raisonne is een uitstekend, baanbrekend werk dat in elke bibliotheek, die zich met zonnewijzers, astrolabia en 16 eeuwse mathematische instrumenten bezig houdt, thuis hoort." (J. De Graeve in Scientiarum Historia, 28, 2002, 2, p. 109-110) "As David King writes in his preface, 'The field desperately needs competent catalogues of instruments' (p. ix) - and here we find a worthy example." (H. Highton in British Journal for the History of Science, Vol. 38/2, June 2005, p. 225-226).

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Contents

Introduction
1
The Production of Scientific Instruments in Sixteenth Century Louvain
2
Introduction
7
Gemma Frisius
9
Gerard Mercator maker of scientific instruments
11
Astronomical rings
14
The italic script in Louvain and Mercators writing manual of 1540
22
Michael Piquer
27
1561 to c 1570
59
c 1570 to c 1600
61
The scientific court of Ernst of Bavaria
65
Conclusion
70
Catalogue Raisonne
73
Instruments by Gerard Mercator
75
Instruments by Michael Piquer
79
Instruments by Gualterus Arsenius
87

The workshop of Gualterus Arsenius
34
Arseniuss mature years 15591580 satyrs ocean gods and rete shapes
39
Signatures and the problem of the Arsenius brothers
52
Adrian Descrolieres an itinerant instrument maker
55
Adrian Zeelst an overlooked Louvain master
57
Instruments by Adrian Descrolieres
184
Instruments by Adrian Zeelst
207
Colour Plates
243
Copyright

About the author (2002)

Koenraad van Cleempoel studied art history at the Catholic University of Louvain and the Completense University of Madrid. He obtained his doctoral degree from the Warburg Institute (London) and afterwards worked as the Sackler Research Fellow at the National Maritime Museum (Greenwich) where he
catalogued the astrolabes described in this volume. He was research assistant of the Institute for the History of Science at the Wolfgang Goethe Universitat in Frankfurt am Main. He now lives in Antwerpen where he is a member of staff of the Higher Institute of Architectural Sciences, Henry van de
Velde. In 2001 he was awarded the tri-annual price 'Frans Jonkheere' for his Ph.D. thesis on the 'Aspects of the Production of Scientific Instruments from the Louvain School, 1530 to 1600'. Since then he is also an appointed member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts in Brussels.

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