Art, Nature, and Travel in Cabinets of Curiosity 16th to 17th centuries
Karina Schei HISD60
Cabinets of Curiosity, or Wunderkammer, came to be in the late 16th century and are heralded as the origin of the modern Museum.  To show one’s worldliness and status, people ranging from kings to cobblers collected objects and showcased them in some form, usually a wonder-room or a simple table.  These collections encompassed objects from many fields of study, but I shall focus on the representation of nature in artwork.  Much like a travel journal, these collections helped the owner to shape the opinion of those around them by carefully curating their collections to show the image they wanted.  How were collections of nature in art used to validate or raise the collector’s social standing?  The reflection of the natural world in art was popular in Cabinets of Curiosity, but were these images made by artists travelling and documenting what they perceived or were they from their imagination?  Were these representations inaccurate due to the artists biases or exaggerated to enhance the feel of exoticism?  Did some artists travel in the steps of the Grand Tour?  By pulling upon primary source texts and images from the 16th to 17th centuries and a broad swath of secondary sources, I shall endeavor to track the development of the Cabinets of Curiosities, in particular those that featured collections of nature in art, through the people who collected and showcased objects, the artists who made them, and the status these collections gave their curators.
Cabinets of Curiosity, or Wunderkammer, came to be in the late 16th century and are heralded as the origin of the modern Museum.  To show one’s worldliness and status, people ranging from kings to cobblers collected objects and showcased them in some form, usually a wonder-room or a simple table.  These collections encompassed objects from many fields of study, but I shall focus on the representation of nature in artwork.  Much like a travel journal, these collections helped the owner to shape the opinion of those around them by carefully curating their collections to show the image they wanted.  How were collections of nature in art used to validate or raise the collector’s social standing?  The reflection of the natural world in art was popular in Cabinets of Curiosity, but were these images made by artists travelling and documenting what they perceived or were they from their imagination?  Were these representations inaccurate due to the artists biases or exaggerated to enhance the feel of exoticism?  Did some artists travel in the steps of the Grand Tour?  By pulling upon primary source texts and images from the 16th to 17th centuries and a broad swath of secondary sources, I shall endeavor to track the development of the Cabinets of Curiosities, in particular those that featured collections of nature in art, through the people who collected and showcased objects, the artists who made them, and the status these collections gave their curators.
Karina Schei HISD60
Art, Nature, and Travel in Cabinets of Curiosity 16th to 17th centuries