Cultivating Science in the Early Modern Garden (16th-18th c.)

Cultivating Science in the Early Modern Garden (16th-18th c.)

International workshop

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Appel à communication


30 Avril 2020


Lisbon, National library of Portugal
  • International workshop
  • Cultivating Science in the Early Modern Garden (16th-18th c.)

Organizers : Denis Ribouillault (University of Montréal, Department of Art History) and Ana Duarte Rodrigues (University of Lisbon, Centro Interuniversitário de História das Ciências e Tecnologia)

  • Call for paper

« [The knowledge of the Royal Society derived ] not onely by the hands of the Learned and profess'd philosophers; but from the Shops of Mechanicks ; from the Voyages of Merchants ; from the ploughs of Husbandmen ; from the Sports, the Fishponds, the Parks, the Gardens of the Gentlemen. »
Thomas Sprat, (1667) History of the Royal Society
(London: J. Martyn and J. Allestry), p. 72.

Although the history of early modern gardens has benefited in recent decades from an increasingly wide range of methodologies, the role played by these spaces in the development of science has been the subject of a relatively small number of inquiries. A majority of them
concentrates on botanical gardens and the history of botany [Baldassari 2017], though it is now recognized that mathematics, pneumatics or astronomy found in gardens a priviledge ground for experimentation and display [Fischer et al. 2016 ; Ferdinand 2016]. A primary aim of this workshop is to interrogate and document what we could call (anachronistically) « scientific practice » in early modern european gardens. How were gardens used to advance scientific knowledge ? Examples range from the growing of medicinal plants, astronomical observation, physical experiments and so forth. Gardens were also privileged places for teaching and for debates and discussion pertaining to the various branches of natural philosophy.
Furthermore, we encourage scholars to pay attention to how this function of gardens as « academies », as platforms for the production and display of knowledge, as stages of scientific sociability and as pedagogical tools, affected the gardens from a formal, artistic, iconographic and hermeneutic point of view. It is not just a matter of documenting and reconstructing what happened in gardens. More precisely, it is a question of showing how what happened in gardens can lead us to a renewed understanding of the physical appearance (at a given moment) of the gardens themselves. This calls for a fruitful – yet difficult-to-achieve - intermingling of the methodologies of the history of science and of the history of art under the aegis of garden history.

  • Fabrizio Baldassarri, Oana Matei (eds.), Gardens as Laboratories. A History of Botanical Sciences, Journal of Early Modern Studies, 6 -1, Spring 2017.
  • Juliette Ferdinand, From Art to Science. Experiencing Nature in the European Garden, 1500-1700, Treviso, Zel Edizioni, 2016.
  • Hubertus Fischer, Volker R. Remmert, Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn (eds.), Gardens, Knowledge and the Sciences in the Early Modern Period, Basel, Birkhäuser, 2016.


Papers should be about 25 minutes long. Q & A and intensive discussion will follow each
presentation. We intend to publish the proceedings of the workshop. Contributors’ travel and accommodation costs will be covered.

Please send a proposal of 550 words max. with a title and a short bio to before April 30, 2020.

This event is sponsored by the research project led by Denis Ribouillault, « Before the ‘Great Divide’ : The Shared Language(s) of Art and Science in the Early Modern Period », funded by a SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) Insight Grant (2019- 2024) and the Centro Interuniversitário de História das Ciências e Tecnologia, University of Lisbon.

The workshop will take place during the exhibition at the National Library Jardins Históricos em Portugal, organized by the Associação de Jardins Históricos and the landscape architect Teresa Andersen, with the collaboration of Ana Duarte Rodrigues, as part of the programme Lisboa Verde 2020. Visits of the exhibition and of relevant gardens and monuments are planned for the workshop participants. 55&lang=pt






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Les membres

Assistante en communication et documentation
Chargé de recherche honoraire
Ancien membre
Chercheur associé
Maître de conférences
Directeur de recherche émérite
Membre honoraire
Membre honoraire
Professeur émérite
Professeur émérite