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Columbia University (New York, NY 10027-7922)
Pamela H. Smith (Project Director: December 2015 to present)
Marc Smith (Co Project Director: February 2016 to present)
Craft Techniques and Knowledge Systems in a 16th-Century Artist's Manuscript: An Open-Access Critical Edition and Translation

Preparation of an online open-access critical edition and translation of a 16th-century manuscript of an artist's recipes for painting and metalworking techniques and observations on scientific processes. See website at

The transcription, English translation, and open-access digital critical edition of a late 16th-century manuscript containing techniques, recipes, and experimental notes, written in French (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, Ms. Fr. 640). This exceptionally detailed and self-reflective how-to text includes unprecedented information on techniques, materials, and observations from an artisan's workshop. It sheds light on the day-to-day creative process of the 16th-century craftsperson, and the acquisition and transmission of skilled practice. The edition’s critical commentary will demonstrate the continuity between the craft workshop and scientific laboratory at a pivotal moment in European history when artists began to write down their practices, and their methods provided models for the emerging experimental culture of a new philosophy—the nascent modern science. How-to texts like this manuscript gave rise to the culture of practical knowledge that underpinned the Scientific Revolution.

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Project fields:
History of Science; History, Criticism, and Theory of the Arts; Renaissance History

Scholarly Editions and Translations

Research Programs

$320,000 (approved)
$319,999 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2016 – 9/30/2020