By Meredith K. Ray
The period of the clinical Revolution has lengthy been epitomized by means of Galileo. but many girls have been at its leading edge, deeply invested in empirical tradition. They experimented with medication and useful alchemy at domestic, at court docket, and during collaborative networks of practitioners. In academies, salons, and correspondence, they debated cosmological discoveries; of their literary creation, they used their wisdom of average philosophy to argue for his or her highbrow equality to men.
Meredith Ray restores the paintings of those ladies to our knowing of early sleek clinical tradition. Her research starts off with Caterina Sforza’s alchemical recipes; examines the sixteenth-century style for “books of secrets”; and appears at narratives of technological know-how in works by way of Moderata Fonte and Lucrezia Marinella. It concludes with Camilla Erculiani’s letters on typical philosophy and, ultimately, Margherita Sarrocchi’s safety of Galileo’s “Medicean” stars.
Combining literary and cultural research, Daughters of Alchemy contributes to the rising scholarship at the variegated nature of clinical perform within the early sleek period. Drawing on a variety of under-studied fabric together with new analyses of the Sarrocchi–Galileo correspondence and a formerly unavailable manuscript of Sforza’s Experimenti, Ray’s ebook rethinks early glossy technology, competently reintroducing the critical and crucial paintings of women.
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Extra resources for Daughters of Alchemy: Women and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy
106 The significance of such gifts in bolstering Isabella’s reputation is clear in the letters that accompany them. 110 For Isabella, as for Caterina, it was desirable to cultivate a public persona as both purveyor of secrets and practitioner. Like Isabella, Caterina was known both for her interest in acquiring new cosmetic, medicinal, or alchemical recipes, and for her skill in preparing them. Letters exchanged with her contacts throughout Italy, from Rome to Forlì to, indeed, the Gonzaga court in Mantua, reflect this side of Caterina’s engagement with empirical culture.
66 Caterina’s correspondence indicates that she depended on her apothecary, Lodovico Albertini, based in Forlì, to supply her with the herbs and other ingredients she needed for her recipes. When Caterina died in 1509 she owed Albertini more than 587 florins. Caterina’s third husband, Giovanni de’ Medici, also died owing Albertini money, suggesting that he probably participated in his wife’s experiments as well. In a letter written by Albertini to Francesco Fortunati, Caterina’s administrator and confessor, shortly after her death (and suggesting their closeness during her life), the apothecary writes that he couldn’t bring himself to speak of the debt when he visited Caterina during her final illness: “it didn’t seem appropriate to mention it, but the illustrious Lady— bless her memory— owed me 587 florins, and more, for materials I provided her with in Forlì, as my account books clearly show.
C. 6 Photo courtesy of private archive Lorenzo di Credi, Ritratto di giovane donna o Dama dei gelsomini Portrait of Young Woman or the Lady of the Jasmine Flowers, c. 1481–1483 (oil on panel), Credi, Lorenzo di (1459–1537) / De Agostini Picture Library / Bridgeman Images 34 Daughters of Alchemy tinctures of gold. 94 Saltpeter (salt niter) appears with regularity as an ingredient in Caterina’s Experiments; and indeed the kinds of alchemical recipes recorded in her compilation reflect such a practical mentality.
Daughters of Alchemy: Women and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy by Meredith K. Ray