A Cabinet of Rarities: Antiquarian Obsessions and the Spell of Death
Erik Desmazieres is acknowledged as a contemporary master of the art of etching. With breathtaking virtuosity, he recreates interiors, cityscapes, landscapes and fantastical compositions from a Piranesian world. Any new work Desmazieres produces is a bibliophiles delight; and this book, the first in which he uses colour, reimagines the arcane world of the cabinet of curiosities: antiquarian collections of the recondite, rare and bizarre, which reminded the viewer of the vanity of earthly life. Patrick Mauriess text is in three parts. The first locates Desmazieres and his work in the long tradition of artist-printmakers; the second surveys the world of 17th-century antiquarianism and its intriguing cast of characters (John Evelyn, John Aubrey and, above all, Thomas Browne, plus many of their continental counterparts); and in the third Mauries examines today's reawakened interest in cabinets of rarities and curiosities, and considers how a phenomenon once considered the preserve of specialists has entered the cultural mainstream.