Renaissance Invention

Renaissance Invention

Stradanus's Nova Reperta
Edited by Lia Markey

This book is the first full-length study of the Nova Reperta (New Discoveries), a renowned series of prints designed by Johannes Stradanus during the late 1580s in Florence. Reproductions of the prints, essays, conversations from a scholarly symposium, and catalogue entries complement a Newberry Library exhibition that tells the story of the design, conception, and reception of Stradanus’s engravings.
Renaissance Invention: Stradanus’s “Nova Reperta” seeks to understand why certain inventions or novelties were represented in the series and how that presentation reflected and fostered their adoption in the sixteenth century. What can Stradanus’s prints tell us about invention and cross-cultural encounter in the Renaissance? What was considered “new” in the era? Who created change and technological innovation?
Through images of group activities and interactions in workshops, Stradanus’s prints emphasize the importance of collaboration in the creation of new things, dispelling traditional notions of individual genius. The series also dismisses the assumption that the revival of the wonders of the ancient world in Italy was the catalyst for transformation. In fact, the Latin captions on the prints explain how contemporary inventions surpass those of the ancients. Together, word and image foreground the global nature of invention and change in the early modern period even as they promote specifically Florentine interests and activities.

About the Author

LIA MARKEY is the director of the Center of Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library.

“Lia Markey has assembled an excellent team of scholars to guide us through a close, careful, and well contextualized reading of Johannes Stradanus’s series of prints from the late 1580s known as the Nova Reperta, some of the most evocative and emblematic images of the early modern era.” —Paula Findlen, author of Empires of Knowledge: Scientific Networks in the Early Modern World

“Lia Markey has assembled a remarkable roster of contributors to tease meaning from one of early modern Europe’s most noteworthy print series. Renaissance Invention leaves no doubt that Stradanus’s Nova Reperta was a pictorial game-changer that continues to resonate across disciplines. In our present age, this exploration of replicative and other technologies shows us why history is important.”—Susan Dackerman, author of Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe