The Visualizing the Unknown blog features short scholarly stories about seventeenth-century microscopy from our research team. We delve into key figures in the development of microscopy, the instruments and methods they used, and, importantly, the larger cultural and religious context wherein they worked. We publish a blog once a week, selected from research materials, MicroLabs, our own publications and press releases. And at times also showcasing important publications related to the history of the microscope and microscopy from other scholars. Links to sources and relevant journal citations (if available) are included at the end of each post.

We hope you enjoy our stories and that you return to our blog often to learn more about seventeenth-century microscopy.

Background image: Johannes Swammerdam,  Ms Bybel der Natuure. Detail from fols. 216v-217r. BPL 126 C III. Leiden University Library 

Teaching at a primary school for ‘Door de Lens van Antoni’

29 december 2022 Antoni van Leeuwenhoekjaar 2023, Events, Primary school, Teaching

by: Larissa van Vianen. During the month November our team member Eric Jorink and intern Larissa van Vianen participated in the teaching programme ‘Door de Lens van Antoni’ as part of the upcoming Antoni van Leeuwenhoek memorial year of 2023. In four lessons the pupils of year 8 of primary school ‘De Vuurtoren’ in Lelystad were invited by our team members to follow in Van Leeuwenhoek’s footsteps and conduct their own scientific research, using microscopes, and preparations they made themselves t…

Albrecht Durer, Bugs, Crawlies, Merian

Symposium ‘Crawly Creatures in Context,’ 27 October

18 november 2022 Art and Science, Context 17th century microscopy, Events

by: Tiemen Cocquyt and Mieneke te Hennepe The Rijksmuseum’s current exhibition ‘Crawly Creatures’, focuses on the mediaeval and early modern perception on small, easily overlooked, critters, such as: mice, snakes and insects. It was curated by Jan de Hond, curator of History at the Rijksmuseum, Artis Library curator Hans Mulder, and our own research project’s PI (principal investigator), Eric Jorink. The exhibition shows highly detailed representations of insects, three dimensional objects such…

Our first workshop

6 september 2022 Events

By Sietske Fransen. From the 22nd until the 24th of June the first workshop of the Visualizing the Unknown project took place at the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome, “Visual and Material Culture of Microscopy in Seventeenth-Century Italy.” Organized by Sietske Fransen and Tiemen Cocquyt this workshop aimed at opening up the discussion of our team away from the mainly Dutch context to the more international discussion on microscopy that took place in the seven…

On visualizing the previously Unknown

18 mei 2022 Uncategorized

By Eric Jorink. Welcome to our website, and the first blog of this wonderful project. In this place, we will keep you updated on our most recent findings, research and thoughts. Having started a year ago, the project is already in full swing – including what is perhaps the most exciting part of it: looking through original seventeenth-century microscopes (see MicroLabs). In trying to make sense of what we can see through these lenses and stumbling upon unexpected problems, flaws, unresolved ques…