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The Architectural Image and Early Modern Science:
Wendel Dietterlin and the Rise of Em
pirical Investigation

From Cambridge University Press

UK/EU print publication: October 2024  –  US print publication: December 2024  –  Global e-book publication: October 2024

 Wendel Dietterlin, Allegory of Building and Architectural Images, etched illustration in Dietterlin’s Architectura de postium seu portalium ornatu vario (Strasbourg: Bernhard Jobin’s Heirs, 1595), Zurich, ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Rar 1226, Pl. 14, 

About The Architectural Image and Early Modern Science

The Architectural Image and Early Modern Science: Wendel Dietterlin and the Rise of Empirical Investigation explores the rise of architecture as a vehicle for scientific discourse. I chart that phenomenon across the work of artists, architects, and scientists in northern Europe and the Viceroyalty of Peru between the eras of Dürer and Rubens, anchoring its pivotal moment in the 1593-8 Architectura treatise of Strasbourg artist Wendel Dietterlin (c. 1550-1599).


I argue that Dietterlin and his peers revived the Vitruvian concept of architecture as both art and science by bringing artistic and scientific techniques of visual research such as nature study and perspectival representation to architectural practice through a new genre: architectural images. I further show that the rise of architectural images rendered architecture a hotbed of empiricism, or the idea that knowledge derives from sensory experience, and thus made architecture indispensable to the emergence of empirical science in modernity. The book traces those developments from northern Europe to viceregal Peru, where it examines how Inca and Ychsma architectural sculptors contested Dietterlin’s ideas about form and matter by asserting their own architectural ontologies.


The Architectural Image and Early Modern Science establishes that the new, empirical imagery of architecture in Dietterlin’s world shaped the image-making practices of early modern architects and scientists in Europe and colonial Latin America, and that this rapport proved instrumental to the global emergence of architecture and science as the mutually imbricated arts we know today.


The Architectural Image and Early Modern Science has been supported by the German-American Fulbright Commission, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and the Princeton University Institute for International and Regional Studies.

FAQ for The Architectural Image in Early Modern Science 

Where can the book be purchased?


The book available for pre-order here.


Are there any upcoming events, such as book signings or lectures, related to the book?


Yes, in the autumn and early winter of 2024, there will be launch events and public lectures in the UK, Germany, and the US, some of which will be hybrid and globally accessible. Details are forthcoming and will be announced on this website and on my Instagram account, @ElizabethPetcu.


What types of courses can benefit from this book?

The Architectural Image and Early Modern Science has been written to serve university-level instructors and students in many types of courses, including:

  • Art History and Architectural History, 1400-1800, particularly courses on northern Europe, colonial Latin America, early modern global art, art/science interactions, and the history of architectural theory

  • Architectural Theory, especially courses that incorporate material from early modern Europe

  • History of Science/History of Knowledge, 1400-1800, especially courses on material and artisanal knowledge, alchemy, anatomy, and the formation of natural philosophical knowledge in northern Europe and colonial Latin America

  • History of the Book/History of Print, 1400-1800, particularly courses on the production and global circulation of prints and books as contexts of knowledge-formation

Are you available for book talks and in-class presentations on the book?


Yes, I am currently planning book discussions for the academic year 2024/2025. In-class book talks will typically take place virtually. Please use the contact form to reach out if you want to schedule a presentation.

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