Compleat Malleability

Giovanni Georgi, Frontispiece Syntagma Anatomicum by Joannes Veslingius (Detail), 1647, Engraving, 202 x 147 mm, London, British Museum

The term virtuoso was first used in Henry Peacham’s Compleat Gentleman in 1634, In his guide book, first published in 1622 and substantially reworked and augmented in the 1634 edition, Peacham mediates between the heredity of nobility and the dire need for education and training in order to truly become a part of noble society:

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Effective Virtues

Paulus de Kempenaer, Alchemy (Detail), 1606, Mixed Media, 420×290 mm, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

In his study of the virtuoso at the interface between art, medicine and antiquity, Craig Hanson refers to the long tradition of the connection between the fields of medicine and art in England (The English Virtuoso 2009). He does not, however, explore its theoretical background.

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