Noam Andrews gave a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Thursday, March 30, 2017 at 12:15 pm. His talk was entitled “What’s the Matter with Johannes Kepler?”

Noam Andrews is a Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts. He received his PhD in the History of Science from Harvard University, with a dissertation entitled “Irregular Bodies: Polyhedral Geometry and Material Culture in Early Modern Germany.” He has held prior fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and Villa I Tatti Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. An exhibition he co-curated entitled Picturing Math: Selections from the Department of Drawings and Prints is currently on view in the Johnson Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (January 31–March 31, 2017). He has most recently published on the geometrical drawings of Albrecht Dürer in Word & Image and on the scientific writings of Bernard Palissy in RES.

Long before he would become the imperial mathematician to Emperor Rudolf II, the astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) was just another ambitious graduate of the Universität Tübingen, eager to make his mark on the world and to move beyond his first academic position as a mathematics teacher in rural Graz. To accompany the publication of his first book, Mysterium Cosmographicum (1596), Kepler quixotically attempted to have an opulent model of the solar system produced for his local patron, Friedrich I, Duke of Württemberg (1557–1608). The model was clad in gold and jewels and capable of holding liquids corresponding to the astrological influences of the planets. Though met with skepticism and destined for failure, the model, its design, and the misunderstandings its failure revealed, poignantly displays competing views of material and materiality in the sixteenth century, as well as the sometimes insurmountable gap between artisanal knowledge and scientific ambition.