Dr. Matthijs Jonker

Dr. Matthijs Jonker

Hoofd Kunstgeschiedenis
+39 06.326962.28

Discipline en specialisatie:
Kunstgeschiedenis, Cultuurwetenschappen,
wijsbegeerte, wetenschapsgeschiedenis

Universiteit van Amsterdam

Periode in Rome:

Bereikbaar op:
Maandag-vrijdag 09.00h-17.30h

KNIR Column “Huei cocoliztli”


Matthijs Jonker studied Art History and Philosophy at the Universities of Amsterdam and Pisa. He completed his PhD in 2017 at the University of Amsterdam. From 2007-2018 he taught courses in Philosophy, Art History, and Cultural Studies at all levels and at various departments in the same university.
An award for his PhD thesis from the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome allowed him spend three months in this city in 2018 to start his current research project on the transcultural and transatlantic production and circulation of knowledge in the early modern period, and the role of images in this production and circulation. He further developed this project as Postdoc-fellow at the Bibliotheca Hertziana (Max Planck Institute for Art History) in Rome in 2019.


Amerindian Contributions to the European natural history and medicine (2018-present)

This research project is an interdisciplinary inquiry into the transatlantic and transcultural production of knowledge in the early modern period. On the one hand, my project consists of a cultural-historical analysis, in which early modern knowledge practices in Italy, Spain, and Mexico are reconstructed and compared with each other. The primary case study in this part of the project is the Tesoro messicano (TM), an encyclopedia of the natural history of Mexico published by the Roman Accademia dei Lincei in 1651. This book is placed in the larger context of the artistic and healing practices performed on both sides of the Atlantic. On the other hand, the project aims to further current ‘globalization’ approaches in historiography of art and science by developing my practice-theoretical interpretative framework in dialogue with postcolonial critique, and by focusing on the epistemic qualities of indigenous images. Rejecting the center-periphery distinction for a more ‘horizontal’ approach, this framework focuses on processes of negotiation as well as on the circulation, appropriation and suppression of artistic forms and knowledge in the ‘contact zones’ where cultures and practices meet. The TM is a pertinent research object in the cultural-historical part of this project because it is the product of Spanish, Italian, and Amerindian knowledge practices. The importance of this publication for the history of science consists in the use of the original material that was collected and produced in Mexico, partly by indigenous ‘artists’ and ‘scientists’ with knowledge of botany and medicine. However, the TM has hitherto only been studied from a European perspective. My project aims to change this by elucidating the contribution by indigenous epistemic actors in the compilation and publication of this book. The leading question in the cultural-historical part of the project concerns the contacts between European and indigenous epistemic actors. How was Amerindian knowledge transformed, appropriated and translated into the TM, so that it could be understood and applied by European scientists?

Dissertation: The Academization of Art (2011-2017)
This dissertation offers a comprehensive interpretation of the first official art academies in Europe, the Florentine Accademia del Disegno (1563) and the Roman Accademia di San Luca (1593). By conceiving these academies as crossing points of patronage, literary-theoretical, guild, educational, and religious-confraternal practices this study presents a multifaceted and integral understanding of these institutions. As such it rejects previous interpretations, in which these academies are reduced to one of their activities (e.g. patronage). The focus on ‘social practices’ entails the application of insights of theories of practice to a cultural-historical research object. The development of theories of practice, especially those of Bourdieu, Foucault and Schatzki, is the second objective of this study, in addition to improving the understanding of the Accademia del Disegno and the Accademia di San Luca in the early years of their existence. The abovementioned practices of the art academies are reconstructed by focusing on the skills that were required from the participants, on the rules that were observed (or transgressed), and on the goals that were pursued by the participants. Moreover, it is shown how the social practices that were carried out in the Accademia del Disegno and the Accademia di San Luca converged or conflicted with external practices and with each other, and how this is related to the various types of power relations that were at work in these institutions.


At the KNIR Matthijs Jonker teaches courses on the relationship between art and science in the early modern period (esp. 16th and 17th centuries), the social art history, theory and methodology in the humanities, and postcolonial (art) history and philosophy.


Hieronder ziet u een selectie. Een compleet overzicht van publicaties is te vinden op

‘The Accademia dei Lincei’s network and practices in the publication of the Tesoro messicano’, Incontri, 34.1 (2019), 19-35.

‘Review of Henrietta McBurney; Paula Findlen; Caterina Napoleone; Ian Rolfe (Editors). Birds, Other Animals and Natural Curiosities (The Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo Series B: Natural History – Parts IV/V.) 2 vols., London: Brepols, 2017,’ Isis 110.4, (2019), 825-827.

‘The Cappella di San Luca: A Crossing Point of Religious and Professional Activities of Artists in Pre-modern Florence’, A. Tacke, B. U. Münch, & W. Augustyn (eds.), Material Culture: Präsenz und Sichtbarkeit von Künstlern, Zünften und Bruderschaften in der Vormoderne / Presence and Visibility of Artists, Guilds, Brotherhoods in the Premodern Era, Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag (2017), 280-299.

‘Practices and Art Historical Meaning: The Multiple Meanings of Guido Reni’s Abduction of Helen in Its Early Years’, Incontri, 25.2 (2010), 149-162.

‘Meaning in Art History: A Philosophical Analysis of the Iconological Debate and the Rembrandt Research Project’, De Zeventiende Eeuw, 24.2 (2008), 146-161.