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Wicked IntelligenceVisual Art and the Science of Experiment in Restoration London$
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Matthew C. Hunter

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226017297

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226017327.001.0001

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Pictorial Intelligence Peter Lely, Experimental Culture, and the Parameters of Painting

Pictorial Intelligence Peter Lely, Experimental Culture, and the Parameters of Painting

(p.98) Chapter Three Pictorial Intelligence Peter Lely, Experimental Culture, and the Parameters of Painting
Wicked Intelligence

Matthew C. Hunter

University of Chicago Press

When he first came to London in the late 1640s, Robert Hooke was apprenticed in the studio of Peter Lely, a Netherlandish artist who would become Restoration London’s leading portrait painter. This chapter proposes that just as Lely and his period commentators can disclose fundamental concerns shared among Hooke’s circles, so the experimental archive provides valuable resources for rethinking Lely. I begin by using Lely’s historical “subject pictures” to surreptitiously illuminate the contours of the Restoration-era philosophical beholder who stood over and against experimental objecthood. The chapter’s second section turns the interpretive direction around, using the Royal Society’s experimental research on the visible, bodily effects produced by exotic intoxicants to re-examine a defining stylistic feature of Lely’s Restoration portraiture: the so-called “sleepy-eyed look.” The chapter concludes synthetically by considering Lely’s pictures as made things whose complex, collaborative studio production presages problems and strategies central to the experimental community especially in the 1670s-early 1680s.

Keywords:   Peter Lely, Robert Hooke, portraiture, history painting, scientific beholder, sleepy-eyed look, intoxication, studio practice, anatomy

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