Speaking Brushes is an open access educational database exploring the lives and careers of twelve prelingually deaf artists working in Europe in the period 1550-1700. With very few biographies having been recorded, information on these artists is scant. Little is known about how they trained or about the journeys they undertook to become professional artists.
Through the examination of case studies from Italy, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, the database gathers data following a methodological approach rooted in the disciplines of art history, social history and disability studies. By looking at early modern biographical accounts, archival documents and works of art, it challenges the assumption that people with deafness were relegated to the margins of society from classical antiquity to the late seventeenth century and emphasises that the consideration of intersectional factors was essential to how people responded to impairment.
Speaking Brushes recognises the presence of deaf artists in the history of art, presenting their artworks, notebooks, letters and documents pertaining to their life to describe how through art practice they asserted their own profession, identity and citizenship.