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Grant number like: FB-55699-11

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

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$25,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2012 – 12/31/2012

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

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.