New History of Fishes. A long-term approach to fishes in science and culture, 1550-1880
From 1550 onwards, a great interest in the natural world developed across Europe. This interest was not only stimulated by a growing knowledge of local flora and fauna, but also by the import of numerous exotic animal and plant species. Think, for instance, of researches and collectors like Gessner and Clusius, and later Rumphius, Seba and Siebold. Ichthyology plays a leading role in this. From 1550, we see that Europe is flooded with thick books on fishes, in different languages and with beautiful illustrations. Ichthyology holds this avant-garde position until well into the nineteenth century.
The role of ichthyology in science, art and culture has always been underexposed. This is a gap that Paul Smith and his colleagues will fill. In collaboration with researchers from Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, this project will examine what the place of ichthyology was in the science and culture of Europe from around 1550 to 1880. The theoretical framework is the New History of Science, which considers the development of science in a broad cultural and historical framework, including attention to social (patronage, institution), (national-)political, religious and artistic aspects.