Medici, Firenze, Rudolf of Prague, Kunstkammer, wunderkammer
"Kunstkammer" or "wunderkammer" are German words and meant respectively "marvels room" and "art room". These words became famous thanks too Julius Von Schlosser who published in 1908 a work on the art titled Die Kunst- und Wunderkammern der Spätrenaissance. These words mean in particular the artistic collection gathered by the prince of Northern Europe at the end of the 16th century mostly The Halsbourg). These collections were encyclopedic collections. They contained many different type of object as different as natural or geological object, religious piece, works of art or antiquities. Every marvel and curiosity was put in it, either the object made by Nature or by the Art. The Italian writter, Francesco Fiorani noticed that "The Kunstkammer was regarded as a microcosm or theater of the world, and a memory theater. The Kunstkammer conveyed symbolically the patron's control of the world through its indoor, microscopic reproduction."1
The wunderkammer (Kunstkammer) was used by princes of Northern Europe in order to promote their own power. The wunderkammer displayed family paintings representing 'great men', gilded treasures, monsters and scientific objects and only few privileged people could see this kind of astonishing collection. All these collections were done in order to show the magnificence, the great genealogy and the wealth of the ruler. When he discovered the collection of Charles 1st, Peter Thomas, a scholar of the 18th, stated that " The kunstkabinett itself was a form of propaganda".
Rudolph II is a good example of this, because he tried to establish his authority by controlling all collectors of his days. His chateau of Hradcany in Prague displayed a splendid collection but also a zoo and others odd curiosities. Rudolf's uncle, Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria also had a collection, with a special emphasis on portrait with interesting deformities, which remains largely intact as the Chamber of Art and Curiosities at Ambras Castle in Austria.
The first mention of a kunstkammer was done in Vienna in 1553. The Hapsburg Kunstkammer was founded by Ferdinand I (1521-64). This was followed by the Kunstkammer of Dresden, established by Elector (1553-86) August of Saxony, most probably around 1560.
But the real history of the wunderkammer began in the 1563 with Albrecht V in Munich. He created an enormous collection and built a huge edifice to display it close to his palace. His collection displayed both contemporary object and Antiquities. The Albrecht's collection comes to be seen as an example.2
Contrarily to the studiolo, place used for study, the wunderkammer prefigured the emergence of museum because they both wanted to astonished and amaze the spectator.
[...] This collection and as well the one of the Medici was regarded as a miracle of the age18. Everyone wanted to penetrate these collections but only few privileged succeed in. We have to keep in mind that the Rudolph and the Medici's collections was secret places normally bound to private contemplation. Very few people penetrated the kunstkammer, one of them was the travel author, Jacques Esprinchard of La Rochelle. He left us relevant details about the collection of the Kunstkammer, how it was displayed and how it was perceived by contemporaries19. [...]
[...] At the centre of the Tribuna there was an octagonal table in pietra dura. On it was displayed since 1677 and thanked to Cosimo III, the famous Venus of the Medici. At the death of his brother, Ferdinando commissioned Buontalenti to design a new ebony cabinet. This piece had been achieved by the best German and Italian artists of this time. They spent six years to achieve it. The visitors were strike by the magnificence of this object. There was five different kind of jewels incrusted in it : a great pearl, a topaz, a sapphire, an emerald and a aquamarine. [...]
[...] The second main difference between the two collections was the objects gathered in it. The Tribuna had brought together the most beautiful pieces of art. It was the most precious jewels done by the best artists and craftsmen of the world (Ex. Ebony cabinet commissioned by Ferdinando 1st). The Kunstkammer had aggregated every objects what seemed important for sciences. Obviously there were beautiful pieces made in luxurious material but there was not only this kind of item. There represent one kind of object what we could find in the greater world. [...]
[...] Owing to the Antic doctrine, every natural element was associated with a material, for instance, air is related to crystal, earth with bronze, metal and precious stone and water with pearls. The Tribuna's statues were also coupled with elements: The Fire is related to Apollo, the Earth to Junon and the water is connected with the simulacra of Venus and Galatea15. Moreover, the objects displayed in the Tribuna are most of all a ‘tour de force' play with the material (ex. Turned ivory object). [...]
[...] Pauline Vigneron 19/11/2009 The collection of the Medici displayed at the Tribuna and Rudolf II's wunderkammer I. Definition of a wunderkammer A. What is called a Wunderkammer ? “Kunstkammer” or “wunderkammer” are German words and meant respectively “marvels room” and room”. These words became famous thanks too Julius Von Schlosser who published in 1908 a work on the art titled Die Kunst- und Wunderkammern der Spätrenaissance. These words mean in particular the artistic collection gathered by the prince of Northern Europe at the end of the 16th century mostly The Halsbourg). [...]
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