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Space, Time, and Experience, 1300–1800
How did the early-modern Christian West conceive of the spaces and times of the afterlife? The answer to this question is not obvious for a period that saw profound changes in theology, when the telescope revealed the heavens to be as changeable and imperfect as the earth, and when archaeological and geological investigations made the earth and what lies beneath it another privileged site for the acquisition of new knowledge.
With its focus on the eschatological imagination at a time of transformation in cosmology, this volume opens up new ways of studying early-modern religious ideas, representations, and practices. The individual chapters explore a wealth of – at times little-known – visual and textual sources. Together they highlight how closely concepts and imaginaries of the hereafter were intertwined with the realities of the here and now.

Contributors include: Matteo Al Kalak, Monica Azzolini, Wietse de Boer, Christine Göttler, Luke Holloway, Martha McGill, Walter S. Melion, Mia M. Mochizuki, Laurent Paya, Raphaèle Preisinger, Aviva Rothman, Minou Schraven, Anna-Claire Stinebring, Jane Tylus, and Antoinina Bevan Zlatar
Ichthyology in Context (1500–1880) provides a broad spectre of early modern manifestations of human fascination with fish – “fish” understood in the early modern sense of the term, as aquatilia: all aquatic animals, including sea mammals and crustaceans. It addresses the period’s quickly growing knowledge about fish in its multiple, varied and rapidly changing interaction with culture. This topic is approached from various disciplines: history of science, cultural history, history of collections, historical ecology, art history, literary studies, and lexicology. Attention is given to the problematic questions of visual and textual representation of fish, and pre- and post-Linnean classification and taxonomy. This book also explores the transnational exchange of ichthyological knowledge and items in and outside Europe.

Contributors: Cristina Brito, Tobias Bulang, João Paulo S. Cabral, Florike Egmond, Dorothee Fischer, Holger Funk, Dirk Geirnaert, Philippe Glardon, Justin R. Hanisch, Bernardo Jerosch Herold, Rob Lenders, Alan Moss, Doreen Mueller, Johannes Müller, Martien J.P. van Oijen, Pietro Daniel Omodeo, Anne M. Overduin-de Vries, Theodore W. Pietsch, Cynthia Pyle, Marlise Rijks, Paul J. Smith, Ronny Spaans, Robbert Striekwold, Melinda Susanto, Didi van Trijp, Sabina Tsapaeva, and Ching-Ling Wang.

Summary

This chapter investigates fish out of water; more specifically, pufferfish specimens found in museum collections and represented in different media. It illuminates the complex processes behind preserving and depicting pufferfish as well as how and which knowledge about this species circulated in the context of 18th-century German collections. To gain scientific knowledge, fish bodies were preserved as wet and dry specimens, and/or translated into prints and written descriptions. These various strategies of representation are especially interesting to investigate when they appear within collections without direct access to the ocean. Tracing one specific pufferfish species, then called Tetrodon hispidus, two exemplary Central European natural collections are examined under an art historical lens. By comparing wet and dry specimens from the ichthyological collections of the Leipzig based Linck family as well as Marcus Elieser Bloch (Berlin), I show that what characterized “the” Tetrodon hispidus differed significantly. Through the additional examination of written and pictorial sources, mainly Bloch’s Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische, it becomes apparent how the various ways of representation interdepend. Yet, despite the challenges of conserving the animals’ bodies, the specimens’ differences, and the living species’ characteristics unknown to the collectors, one can, surprisingly, trace a coherent iconography of the fish. Thus, shedding light on the production of ichthyological knowledge, this chapterpaper demonstrates the Enlightenment period’s focus on completeness, classification and generalisability as well as the unique role of fish specimens within it.

Open Access
In: Ichthyology in Context (1500–1880)

Summary

The Swiss naturalist and physician Leonhardt Thurneysser zum Thurn (1531–1596) travelled to Lisbon in 1555/56. During his sojourn there, as a guest of the Portuguese Royal chronicler, diplomat and humanist Damião de Góis (1502–1574), he described Portugal’s nature. The little-known manuscript of more than 300 pages contains many descriptions of plants, including herbs and trees. Thirty-two folios deal however with descriptions of fishes and other aquatic and marine animals (mammals, crustaceans and molluscs), which he probably observed at the fish market or in nature. An important part of the species is mentioned by their Portuguese names most probably collected from the fishermen and traders the author interviewed. In the present chapter these names are presented together with the respective modern scientific (binomial) and Portuguese common names, as far as it was possible to identify the animals mentioned by the author, at species level, with reasonable certainty. To our knowledge, this is the first inventory of the aquatic and marine fauna of mainland Portugal.

Open Access
In: Ichthyology in Context (1500–1880)

Summary

This chapter aims to contribute to the analysis of a particular phenomenon in the history of science, that is the emergence of a new view of nature, as manifested by the formation of a specific academic community and the publication of numerous treatises, between 1530 and 1565. It does not so much intend to praise the energy and foresight of those whom a history of event-driven sciences calls precursors, as to assess the evolution and conditions of this movement. Focusing on ichthyology, it presents a brief analysis of five stages, beginning with the first re-publications of ancient sources, in particular Aristotle and Pliny. It continues with comparisons between the species described and the observations of 16th-century naturalists. Finally, it turns to the treatises themselves, whose prefaces already document the awareness of a new approach and methodology. It thus aims to further a better grasp of the often misunderstood movement of Renaissance natural history with its characteristic and permanent attempts to reconcile ancient texts with a sensory appropriation of nature, and whose influence extended until the middle of the 18th century.

Open Access
In: Ichthyology in Context (1500–1880)
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Summary

The origins of the European study of nature can be traced back to Greek and Roman antiquity, but illustration for science first flourished during the Renaissance, and was seen by contemporary scholars as a ‘combination of art and science’. From the 17th-century natural illustrations of fish emerged in China, produced by individual scholars and anonymous workshops painters in Canton. This chapter is a survey of painted natural illustrations of fish in China from the 17th to the 19th century and examines their development in different contexts. This overview of the depiction of fish and other marine creatures in Chinese art offers a view on the varied way in which these paintings came about and the purposes for which they were made. Ranging from an attempt at scientific accuracy, to societal commentaries and entertainment purposes, the illustrations and descriptions of the various species highlight that science and art at times work in parallel but often also may proceed in different degree. Unlike its development in Europe, this survey of the development of natural illustration of fish in China, however, shows a different path.

Open Access
In: Ichthyology in Context (1500–1880)

Summary

Many of the major works of 18th- and 19th-century European ichthyology depended on “second hand” information that could not directly be verified. Since their authors had few opportunities to travel outside Europe, they critically depended on specimens and accompanying information from contacts abroad. This chapter examines the strategies of gathering, organizing and verifying zoological information in Marcus Elieser Bloch’s Natural History of German and Foreign Fishes (1782–1795) which presented one of the first accounts of “all” known fish species according to the Linnean system. Bloch’s case illustrates how 18th-century naturalists crucially depended on textual-critical skills to extract facts from often narrative and anecdotal source material.

Open Access
In: Ichthyology in Context (1500–1880)

Summary

Dutch persons and Europeans working for the Dutch administration played a major role in the earliest development of Japanese systematic ichthyology. They contributed as collectors of specimens, collection managers, intermediaries, species identifiers, and describers of new species. This chapter provides, in chronological order, the names and ichthyological achievements of these “Dutch” contributors.

Open Access
In: Ichthyology in Context (1500–1880)
Author:

Summary

In the middle of the 16th century, the founding fathers of modern ichthyology (the two Frenchmen Pierre Belon, Guillaume Rondelet and the Italian Hippolito Salviani) struggled to adequately illustrate their fish descriptions. Their efforts were not only uncoordinated, but also rooted in the conscious rejection of each other’s position, culminating in a fierce, publicly held controversy between Rondelet and Salviani. A reverberation of this controversy can still be found in the 19th century in the writings of the great zoologist Georges Cuvier. Despite the squabbling, Belon and Rondelet, as well as Salviani, did independently reach similar conclusions about the style of their illustrations, moving away from the allegorical or symbolic iconography that prevailed until the 15th century towards an almost photo-realistic manner that is still considered exemplary today.

Open Access
In: Ichthyology in Context (1500–1880)

Summary

This chapter focuses on the identification of fishes in selected artwork by Dutch and Flemish early modern artists. The depicted species were labelled by means of an online Zooniverse citizen science project. Identification of fish in artworks by citizen science turned out to be not reliable enough for identification of the exact species, within the parameters of this project, because of a lack of agreement between volunteers. Nevertheless, some interesting trends could be traced in the presence of certain categories of fish; these trends correspond with cultural and environmental changes. Freshwater species in paintings increased after the 19th century. Large fish species are less often depicted after the second Little Ice Age. In the 15th and 16th centuries paintings of consumption-related scenes concerned mostly freshwater fish, while in the 18th to the 20th century they showed mostly marine fish. This investigation thus demonstrates the thematic dependence of the visual arts on the fluctuating ichthyological biodiversity and changes in the human diet. Moreover, the database with labelled paintings makes it possible to localize fish species in a large body of artwork, facilitating motif research.

Open Access
In: Ichthyology in Context (1500–1880)