Opening the cognitive tool-box of migrating sculptors (1680-1794): an analysis of the epistemic and semiotic structures of the republic of tools

Seyler, Katrin Jutta (2012). Opening the cognitive tool-box of migrating sculptors (1680-1794): an analysis of the epistemic and semiotic structures of the republic of tools. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis explores the epistemic structures of late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century migrating image-makers with a particular regard for producers of sculpture. By means of an analysis of journals written by the sculptor Franz Ertinger (1669 – 1747) and the glazier Jacques-Louis Ménétra (1738-c.1803) this thesis identifies an epistemic order which was contingent on the worlds of mobility of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century craftsmen. In order to advance the understanding of how artisan image-makers of this period acquired, organised and developed knowledge, the concept of a cognitive tool-box is introduced. Examining a number of cognitive tools, i. e. epistemic strategies, the thesis constructs an interpretative framework through which itinerant artisans were potentially able to derive meanings from situations, objects and communities which were unfamiliar or culturally different in some ways. Due to the emphasis on cognitive aspects, the thesis‟s principal method can be described as an epistemological history of art, taking into consideration historically specific mechanisms of interpretation, exchange and knowledge organisation, such as the building of unwritten archives of artisan histories. The thesis also addresses questions surrounding the identities of migrating craftsmen and suggests the existence of a “Republic of Tools”, tracing the career of one of its highly mobile citizens, the sculptor Johann Eckstein (1735-1817).

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Other
Other Funders: The University of Birmingham
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
N Fine Arts > NB Sculpture
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general


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