Networks and Knowledge of Glass in the Dutch Republic, 1650-1795

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, 2014

The craft of making stained glass all but disappeared from the northern Netherlands in the long eighteenth century, but craft knowledge continued to circulate in texts and rare attempts at revival. As a visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institute, I studied the role of artisans, natural historians and apothecaries and their use of texts in attempts to maintain and revive the knowledge of and techniques for the production of stained glass in the northern Netherlands between 1650 and 1821. This resulted in a publication in Nuncius. Journal of the Material and Visual History of Science, in which I argue that their efforts contributed to the preservation of existing stained glass, and raised awareness about the cultural and historical value of stained glass and the knowledge and skills required to produce it. Although much tacit, practical knowledge was lost, basic technical knowledge circulated in a small number of texts. Combined with preserved stained glass, these texts served as the basis for reconstructive experiments that would lead to a revival of the art in the nineteenth century.