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  • Thursday, February 26, 2015
  • 3:30 PM–4:46 PM

By Craig Hanson, Associate Professor of Art History at Calvin College

The traditional historiographical account of England’s outlook and connections to the European continent in the seventeenth century tends to focus on the influence of links to Italy and France, especially in terms of arts and culture. Yet in the Meeter Center spring public lecture, Professor Craig Hanson of Calvin College’s Art and Art History department argued for the importance of continued bonds between England and the Netherlands, both in art and in shaping the English world-view at the time. Through an analysis of texts and images, including several striking anatomical engravings, Hanson noted the ongoing close ties between the two nations and emphasized the need to change the story that is usually told about the rise of the visual arts in seventeenth-century England. He highlighted the important personal connections between the two countries, as artists, scholars, and physicians travelled and studied and worked in both places, including the Dutch artist Peter Lely, the Dutch medical doctor and royal physician Govart Bidloo, and the English physician Richard Meade.

Bidloo’s biography underscores how easily people could move between the two lands: although he was professor of medicine at Leiden, Bidloo spent most of his time at the court of King William III in England. Given Bidloo’s rather unpleasant and quarrelsome personality, his colleagues in Leiden seem not to have minded his absence except for the fact that they repeatedly failed to get permission to replace him or appoint a substitute to teach his courses. Bidloo’s works also crossed the Channel: his Anatomia Humani Corporis (1685) was pirated by an English physician, William Cowper, who reprinted the contents of the work in 1698, including the numerous illustrations by Gerard de Lairesse, under his own name.

For his part, Richard Meade grew up as the son of a famous English dissenting pastor, studied medicine in Leiden, and eventually returned to England and moved from his dissenting upbringing into allegiance to the Church of England, opening the door to preferment and patronage. In the course of his lecture, Hanson carefully analyzed a previously-overlooked letter from the dean of Norwich to the archbishop of Canterbury, which gave an account of Meade’s move from non-conformity to support for the Church of England, in spite of his family’s objections.

Hanson’s well-received lecture is part of a bigger research project he is undertaking on the connections between England and the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. We look forward to seeing the results of his research in print.

Karin Maag
Director, H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies

February 2015
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