A few days ago I had the opportunity to fulfill a long-held dream: to give a talk at the Prado Museum in Madrid, one of my favourite museums, whose collections I’ve studied for quite some time as historian of science & art.
My talk, entitled “La historia natural y sus imágenes en la época de Rubens”, was part of a conference series dedicated to one of the Prado’s current exhibitions: Historias naturales. Un proyecto de Miguel Ángel Blanco (more information about this exhibition here).
The general aim of my talk was to highlight the interconnections between the development of visual culture in late 16th and early 17th-century natural history, on the one hand, and the use and appreciation of natural motifs in the visual arts of this period, on the other. I used several examples (images of toucans, pelicans, birds of paradise, lynx) taken from the works of Gesner, Aldrovandi, Clusius, Nieremberg, Jonstonus, Cassiano dal Pozzo and others. And I also discussed the work of several artists like Jan Brueghel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens y Frans Snyders.
The idea was to provide the audience with a set of ‘visual tools’, so the next time they visit the Prado or any other museum, they can identify the various overlaps between knowledge-making and image-making.
The video of the whole conference will be uploaded at the Prado’s website – more about this in a future post.
Here you have an image* of the talk:
* If anyone knows the author of the photograph shown in the presentation, please send me a message. I’d like to give her/him due credit.