Eye of the Beholder

Eye of the Beholder

Johannes Vermeer, Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek, and the Reinvention of Seeing

Book - 2015
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On a summer day in 1674, in the small Dutch city of Delft, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek--a cloth salesman, local bureaucrat, and self-taught natural philosopher--gazed through a tiny lens set into a brass holder and discovered a never-before imagined world of microscopic life. At the same time, in a nearby attic, the painter Johannes Vermeer was using another optical device, a camera obscura, to experiment with light and create the most luminous pictures ever beheld.

"See for yourself!" was the clarion call of the 1600s. Scientists peered at nature through microscopes and telescopes, making the discoveries in astronomy, physics, chemistry, and anatomy that ignited the Scientific Revolution. Artists investigated nature with lenses, mirrors, and camera obscuras, creating extraordinarily detailed paintings of flowers and insects, and scenes filled with realistic effects of light, shadow, and color. By extending the reach of sight the new optical instruments prompted the realization that there is more than meets the eye. But they also raised questions about how we see and what it means to see. In answering these questions, scientists and artists in Delft changed how we perceive the world.

In Eye of the Beholder, Laura J. Snyder transports us to the streets, inns, and guildhalls of seventeenth-century Holland, where artists and scientists gathered, and to their studios and laboratories, where they mixed paints and prepared canvases, ground and polished lenses, examined and dissected insects and other animals, and invented the modern notion of seeing. With charm and narrative flair Snyder brings Vermeer and Van Leeuwenhoek--and the men and women around them--vividly to life. The story of these two geniuses and the transformation they engendered shows us why we see the world--and our place within it--as we do today.

Publisher: New York :, W.W. Norton & Company,, [2015]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780393077469
Branch Call Number: ANF 701.050949 SNY
ANF 701.050949 SNY
Characteristics: 432 pages : illustrations (some colour) ; 25 cm


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Apr 07, 2015

This book sounds very interesting! I read this book and finished it earlier this year. The book was full of facts and details, historical, scientific, political, biographical, and otherwise. I found it to be somewhat dense reading, but very rewarding, nevertheless. The book informed me a lot concerning the discoveries of Van Leueweenheauk and the tremendous work and efforts he made toward his mighty contributions to the advancement of science. The book also informed me a lot abou the life of the great painter Johannes Vermeer. The period he lived in was a trying and suffering one for painters in terms of the physical dangers linked to the paint materials the artists were compelled to use at that time. Vermeer was a highly dedicated painter who mastered his art and style of the time. It was very sad to learn that he succumbed to disease in his early 40s and did not survive.

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Aug 02, 2016

r321mus thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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