The ‘model approach’ facilitates a quantitative-oriented study of conceptual changes in large corpora. This paper implements the ‘model approach’ to investigate the erosion of the traditional art-nature distinction in early modern natural philosophy. I argue that a condition for this transformation has to be located in the late scholastic conception of final causation. I design a conceptual model to capture the art-nature distinction and formulate a working hypothesis about its early modern fate. I test my hypothesis on a selected corpus of 25 works published in the Dutch academic milieu between 1607 and 1748. I analyse the corpus through a procedure based on concordancing of keywords associated with the model. I argue that the results obtained constitute a successful pilot study for the implementation of the model approach on larger scale research.