Andrew Morrall will speak in the Work-in-Progress Seminar on Tuesday, November 15 at 12 pm. His talk is entitled “The Cosmos of the Urban Craftsman.”


Andrew Morrall is Professor and Chair of Academic Programs at Bard Graduate Center. His research focuses on the art and material culture of early modern Northern Europe. He has published on Renaissance aesthetics, the history of collecting, intersections of art and science, theories of ornament, aspects of the early modern domestic interior, and on the Reformation and the arts. His current research focuses on works of art and craft made for the Kunstkammer of sixteenth-century northern Europe, and in particular on the knowledge base and intellectual aspirations of the elite craftsmen who made them: urban, educated, inventive, intellectually curious, and fired by the values of humanism—whose interests intersected with those of their courtly patrons and whose creations gave material shape to the philosophical speculations and enquiries about the world that arose within the Kunstkammer’s milieu.

This talk will be structured around discussion of two works of art that straddle the sixteenth century: the “Cosmos Table“ by the Ulm artist, Martin Schaffner, painted in 1533 as a gift for a member of the Strassburg goldsmith family Stedelin; and the so-called “Universe Cup” by the Nuremburg goldsmith Jonas Silber, of 1589, intended for the Emperor Rudolf II. While each work was designed with the specific values of its recipient in mind, they also reflect different notions of the world as well as changing structures of knowledge and the means available to the craftsman to grasp them. As such, these two works and the sources they drew upon will form twin poles of a discussion about the broader intellectual interests, educational backgrounds, and professional aspirations of south German craftsmen—a changing mental landscape that was the product of a rapidly developing and increasingly self-conscious professional urban culture.