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The following is a list of History of Art departmental events, events the department is co-sponsoring, and events involving History of Art faculty. Click on event title for more info.

The Premodern Colloquium. Erhard Ratdolt: The Manipulation of Light in Fifteenth Century Mathematical and Astronomical Treatises

Rheagan Martin, U-M History of Art
Sunday, April 16, 2023
4:00-6:00 PM
In his editio princeps of Euclid’s Elements, German-expatriate publisher Erhard Ratdolt included a dedicatory letter to the Venetian Doge entirely printed in gold leaf. The technological feat forces the viewer to participate with a light source in order to read the luminous text. Taking this notion of embodied reading further, I propose that both in his Euclid and later, in his astronomical compilation Sphaera Mundi, Ratdolt aligned diagrams on either side of a single folio. In the course of turning the page, light transmitted through the thin paper support illuminates both diagrams at once. This allowed viewers to compare related geometric proofs or to visualize overlaps in the orbits of celestial bodies.

Through an investigation of translucency and luminosity in late fifteenth-century Venetian visual and material culture, I consider how publishers mobilized technologies of print to exploit the material properties of paper. Similarly, I examine how contemporary epistemologies may have led viewers to look through the folio. I argue that producers of Venetian material culture were particularly skilled in the creation of these effects between translucency and opacity and that savvy Venetian viewers were attuned to the movement of light within and through familiar objects.

To receive a registration link, please contact Terre Fisher
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Type: Workshop / Seminar
Tags: art history, European, history, Research
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS), History of Art