Lecture, Visual Art

UNC Chapel Hill Department of Art and Art History: CANCELLED: "The Designs of Nature: Form, Matter, and the Making of Art in Early Modern Europe"

( Tue., Mar. 17, 2020 - Thu., Mar. 26, 2020 )

Performed by Rebecca Zorach, guest lecturer

Hanes Art Center, 121 E. Cameron Ave., Chapel Hill, NC 27514


* Cancelled due to university policy regarding COVID-19 response.

This series of lectures explores the idea of the agency and creativity of a sometimes personified "Nature" in late medieval and early modern Europe. Often seeming to operate with surprising independence from the Christian God, Nature was understood as both a creator of artists and a powerful generator of images that served as inspiration to those same artists. The series of lectures traces a set of ideas that shaped the work of artists and art theorists, scientists and theologians in both northern and southern Europe, looking especially closely at the problem of "figured stones": stones (some fossils, some not) that seemed to bear mysterious images "made by Nature." The lectures touch on paintings by Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, and Andrea Mantegna, along with garden sculptures, architectural ornament, and scientific illustration. 

Rebecca Zorach is the Mary Jane Crowe Professor in Art and Art History at Northwestern University. Her work focuses on early modern European art, contemporary and activist art. Zorach won the 2006 Gustave O. Arlt Award from the Council of Graduate Schools and the 2005 book prize from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women for her book Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold: Abundance and Excess in the French Renaissance.


March 17: The Artificious Fire: Nature as Creator in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

March 19: Rocks and Stones and Trees

March 24: Of Math and Monsters: Nature's Intentions and Nature's Play  

March 26: Signs on the Shore: Art, Nature, and the Human


More information



The Bettie Allison Rand Lectures in Art History


  • Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 5:30 PM
  • Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 5:30 PM
  • Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 3:30 PM
  • Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 3:30 PM