Early Modern Eyes


In bringing together work on optic theory, ethnography, and the visual cultures of Christianity, this volume offers a sense of the richness and the complexity of early modern thinking about the human eye. The seven case studies explore the relationship between vision and knowledge, taking up such diverse artifacts as an emblem book, a Jesuit mariological text, Calvin’s Institutes, Las Casas’s Apologia, Hans Staden’s True History, the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, and an exegetical painting by Herri met de Bles. Argued from different disciplinary perspectives, these essays pose crucial questions about the eyes, asking how they were construed as instruments of witnessing, perception, representation, cognition, and religious belief.

Contributors include: Tom Conley, Walter Melion, José Rabasa, Lee Palmer Wandel, Michel Weemans, Nicolás Wey Gómez, and Neil Whitehead.

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Biographical Note
Walter S. Melion, Ph.D. (1988) in Art History, University of California, Berkeley, is Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Art History at Emory University in Atlanta. He has published extensively on Dutch and Flemish art and art theory of the 16th and 17th centuries. His books include Shaping the Netherlandish Canon: Karel van Mander's "Schilder-Boeck" (University of Chicago, 1991) and The Meditative Art: Studies in the Northern Devotional Print (Saint Joseph's University, 2009).

Lee Palmer Wandel, Ph.d. (1985) in History, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is Professor of History, Religious Studies, and Visual Culture, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her books include Always Among Us: Images of the Poor in Zwingli’s Zurich (Cambridge University, 1990), Voracious Idols and Violent Hands: Iconoclasm in Reformation Zurich, Strasbourg, and Basel (Cambridge University, 1994), and The Eucharist in the Reformation: Incarnation and Liturgy (Cambridge University, 2006).
Review Quotes
‘’An important contribution to our knowledge of the dynamic an intersection between representation, visual cognition, and witnessing, including the plurality of ‘’early modern eyes’’, and the variety of ways in which knowledge and vision were interrelated’’
Eleonora Canepari, French National Center for Scientific Research. In: Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 42, No. 4, 2011, p. 1137.
Table of contents
Notes on Editors
List of Contributors
List of Illustrations

Introduction, Lee Palmer Wandel
The Politics of Light: Al-Kindī’s Optics and the Vindication of the American Tropics in Bartolomé de las Casas’s Apologética historia sumaria (1527-1561), Nicolás Wey Gómez
A Topographer’s Eye: From Gilles Corrozet to Pieter Apian, Tom Conley
The Ethnographic Lens in the New World: Staden, De Bry, and the Representation of the Tupi in Brazil, Neil L. Whitehead
Depicting Perspective: The Return of the Gaze in Codex Telleriano-Remensis (c.1563), José Rabasa
John Calvin and Michel de Montaigne on the Eye, Lee Palmer Wandel
Quel rapport entre une partie de jeu de paume et le roi David? Analogie et Exégèse Visuelle dans le David et Bethsabée de Herri met de Bles, Michel Weemans
‘Quae lecta Canisius offert et spectata diu’: The Pictorial Images in Petrus Canisius’s De Maria Virgine of 1577/1583, Walter S. Melion

Index Nominum
All those interested in intellectual history, early modern European history, the history of vision, Christian image-theory, and the disciplines of ethnography and cosmography.
Index Card
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