Picturing the Healing Arts: Word, Image, and the Illustrated Tractatus de herbis, 1280-1526


ACLS Fellowship Program


Department of Art and Art History


How and why did medieval medical knowledge retain its value in light of early-modern paradigm shifts in the healing and the visual arts? Three versions of an illustrated book of herbal remedies produced in manuscript and print between 1280-1526 demonstrate the ways in which visual and verbal information was reworked for new readers. Successive adaptations of the text, its illustrations, and the design of the book re-structured reading practices, and ultimately, participated in the creation of therapeutic knowledge. Expanding standard definitions of the "scientific" image in both its historical and modernist contexts, this analysis is directed toward historians of art and science, as well as other scholars whose work engages perception, representation, and textual analysis.