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most often taken for granted especially for the more descriptive (and, therefore, less mathematical) sciences, such as natural history. An outline of the theses of these papers clearly casts doubt on the concept of ‘naive empiricism’. James S. Ackerman’s article, “Early Renaissance ‘Naturalism’ and Scientific Illustration”, focuses upon two main issues: the dichotomy between visual depiction of individuals (or ‘accidents’) and species (or ’ideals’); and the circumvention of this problem by the copying of illustrations from other pictures (rather than from nature itself). This (latter) persistence among artists for copying prototypes is also the theme of Paul Hulton’s essay, “Realism and Tradition in Ethnological and Natural History Imagery of the 16th Century”. In their depictions of North American native Indians and flora, artists relied heavily upon European conventions (or ‘schemata’, to borrow a term from E.H. Gombrich). For zoological illustrations, artists copied Renaissance illustrations throughout the seventeenth century, according to William Ashworth, Jr., in “The Persistent Beast”. Wolfgang Harms reveals that emblematics were still employed in sixteenth-century natural history books; in “On Natural History and Emblematics in the 16th Century”, he argues that, despite the lip service given to the rise of empiricism, “the objectives and the content of works on natural history and interpretative emblematic treatments of natural phenomena are not strictly to be distinguished” (p. 83). And in a study of nineteenth-century natural history, “Scientific Theory and Visual Language”, David Knight shows how such illustrations depended upon scientific theories about the flora and fauna represented. Again, ‘naive empiricism’ is displaced by a ‘visual rationalism’; or, to borrow a phrase from the philosophy of science, one may speak of scientific illustrations as ‘theory-laden’. Of course,the viewpoint thus presented is not unfamiliar to art theorists. For they are well aware that artists often rely more upon pre-existing schematic forms than direct visual experience, a fact which Gombrich has referred to as the ‘tenacity of convention’. On an issue perhaps more directly related to the adscience interface, David E. Allen in “Natural History and Visual Taste” declares that there was a parallel between Victorian natural history and the depiction of fashionable plants in design art. Allan Ellenius’ essay on “Ecological Vision and Wildlife Painting towards the End of the 19th Century” focuses upon the Swedish artist Bruno Liljefors, and maintains that the artist’s “ecological vision” is revealed in the manner in which he depicted the “intimate connection between the animal and its surrounding” (p. 158)-a ’vision’possibly influenced by the contemporary scientific study of mimicry and protective coloration in animals. In “Natural History Frontispieces and Ecology” of the eighteenth century, Gunnar Broberg asserts that the organic world-view still prevailed; at least in frontispieces a residue of organicism remained amidst the mechanical worldview of the Enlightenment. And BengtOlof Landin’s essay covers “Entomological Illustrations and Illuminations with Special Reference to Swedish Treatises: A Bibliographical Survey”. The remaining two essays also relate to the art and science issue. “The Bearing of the Scientific Study of Vision on Painting in the 18th Century: Pieter Camper’s De visu (1746)” by Michael Baxandall is a study of the painter’s treatise on perception. Baxandall argues that Camper’s theory of vision was influenced by his practice of art; in particular, his theory of perception of distant objects was based upon his experience of depicting objects in depth. Finally, Martin Kemp presents an overview of color theory in “Yellow, Red and Blue: The Limits of Colour Science in Painting, 1400-1730”. His specific concern is the development of the modern system of pigments, consisting of primary and secondary colors-a system which did not appear until the seventeenth century, when it was quickly adopted. Kemp’s main point is that color theory since ancient times had virtually no relationship to how artists actually used color in practice. In essence he argues that there was very little interrelationship between art and science, and where art did borrow from science, the exchange was often based upon a misunderstanding or a distortion of the actual science. Kemp’s essay is part of a book in progress on the history of color science (The Science of Art), a work...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
pp. 94-95
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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