Religion, Technology and the Arts in the Early Modern Period

Religion, Technology, and the Arts in the Early Modern Period

Koen Vermeir


Narratio ... Ignatii et Francisci canonizatione (Douai, 1622), insert p. 17


What should we make of a seventeenth-century wooden Christ, who drenched spectators in the blood spouting from his wound? How are we to understand an artfully crafted automaton, performing battles between ferocious animals, until Orpheus and St. Xavier pacified them? And how are we to read representations of a magic lantern symbolizing divine emanations and representing a metaphysics of light?

In this project, I study the intersection between religious, technical, artisanal and artistic knowledge in the early modern period. This comprises various sub-projects, e.g. on automata, optical technologies, mining practices, natural histories, or the notion of "ingenium", for which I am currently doing research in German archives and libraries. 


This research stay fits into the work of the Research Group "Art and Knowledge in Pre-Modern Europe", directed by Sven Dupré, and is related to the projects « Theology and Technology » and « La société du spectacle. La fête baroque entre Italie et anciens Pays-Bas (1585-1685) » (see