Research Programs: Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Period of Performance

7/1/2012 - 12/31/2012

Funding Totals

$50,400.00 (approved)
$25,200.00 (awarded)

Verrocchio's Factura: Making and Meaning in an Italian Renaissance Workshop

FAIN: FB-55699-11

Christina Stewart Neilson
Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH 44074-1057)

My book addresses the significance of the exceptional procedures of the Renaissance artist Andrea del Verrocchio, arguing that he explored themes pertaining to the meaning of art, not on a level beyond his art, but rather through the material processes of making. Artists of a later period have left a wealth of theoretical writing; the challenge of investigating the thinking of artists who, like Verrocchio, left no treatise remains controversial though pressing. I read Verrocchio's unusual techniques alongside contemporary writings with which he was familiar to provide a theory where a treatise is lacking. In uncovering the thinking within his art, I also extend backwards in time the reach of historian of science Pamela H. Smith's paradigm of "artisanal epistemology," the generating of abstract knowledge through material procedures. I use these novel methods in the service of an appropriate materialist intellectual history of late-fifteenth century artistic practice.