Author(s): Giulia Carciotto
The Wunderkammer, or "cabinet of curiosities," saw collectors gathering objects from many strands of artistic, scientific, and intellectual endeavor, in an ambitious attempt to encompass all of humankind's knowledge in a single room. From the Grand Duke Francesco I de' Medici and Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II to Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg, these aristocratic virtuosos acquired, selected, and displayed the objects in real-life catalogues that represented the entire world--spanning architecture, interior design, painting, sculpture, gemology, geology, botany, biology and taxonomy, astrology, alchemy, anthropology, ethnography, and history. Marvel at the unicorn horns (narwhal tusks), gems, rare coral growths, Murano glasswork, paintings and peculiar mechanical automata. Browse through illustrations of exotic and mythical creatures and discover the famed "Coburg ivories," an astounding collection of crafted artifacts. These collections are nothing short of a journey through time, from the Renaissance and Age of Discovery, the Mannerist and Baroque periods, up to the present day. Although many of these cabinets of curiosities no longer exist, others have been meticulously reconstructed, and new ones born. These marvelous cabinets of curiosities can now be explored by all in this XXL collection. To realize this mammoth undertaking, Massimo Listri traveled to seven European countries over several decades; the result is a set of gorgeous photographs, an authoritative yet accessible introduction, and detailed commentary on each of the 19 chambers highlighting the most remarkable items in each collection. Discover how these timeless treasures both describe and defined civilization, the modern concept of the museum, and our very knowledge of the universe.