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The Use of Printed Images for Instrument-Making at the Arsenius Workshop

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines instruments from a famous Louvain workshop ca. 1570, focusing on the role of printed images. It suggests that woodcuts did indeed inspire instrument makers; that images were sometimes more important than the text; and that the viewer's appreciation of the images depended upon his familiarity with an instrument's mathematical structure. The workshop of Arsenius in Louvain was one of the most renowned instrument maker's workshops in Europe in its time. It was connected to the outstanding activity of Gemma Frisius (1508-1555), a physician, mathematics teacher and mathematical writer, as well as to a number of other mathematical practitioners. On one hand Gemma's descriptions of instruments were quite possibly based on existing prototypes of brass or wood instruments, made by an artisan in collaboration with the mathematician. On the other hand, Arsenius simplifies some features that produce a cramped impression on Fine's woodcut.

Keywords: Arsenius; artisan; Europe; Gemma Frisius; instrument makers; Louvain workshop; mathematical structure



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