Marisa Bass is a scholar of early modern art in northern Europe, with a focus on intersections between art and intellectual culture in the Netherlands. Her research interests include the representation of nature, the cult of images, portraiture, Renaissance notions of imagination and invention, print culture, and links between early modern art and medicine.
Her first book, Jan Gossart and the Invention of Netherlandish Antiquity (Princeton 2016) takes the mythological paintings of Jan Gossart and the local revival of antiquity in the Netherlands as a starting point to critically redefine the notion of a “northern Renaissance.” Her second book, Insect Artifice: Nature and Art in the Dutch Revolt, is forthcoming with Princeton University Press in 2019.
This study traces how the religious and political upheaval of the mid-sixteenth-century Low Countries spurred engagement with the nascent field of natural history, and particularly how the experience of iconoclastic destruction and inquisition motivated a turn to nature as a site of generation, transformation, and rebirth. At its center is a microhistory of the virtuosic artist and polymath Joris Hoefnagel, who fled into exile from the Netherlands in response to the wartime upheaval of the Revolt, and whose stunning miniature paintings of animals and insects embody his desire to understand the fraught boundary between nature and human nature.