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Golden age collections showcased in Wonder Stage of Nature


No Dutch Golden Age (17th century) collection of obscure and exotic trinkets and specimens appears to have survived, as heirs tended to sell off these collections to foreign collectors. However, we still have books that illustrate them at least. As Bibliodyssey writes:

The collection obsession of Early Modern Europe, that saw people stocking cabinets of curiosities […] with obscure and exotic trinkets and specimens from the worlds of ‘artificialia’ and ‘naturalia’, emerged in Holland under a local profile of influences.

Unlike most of their European counterparts, the Dutch republic lacked both a royal court or any sizeable aristocracy, so collecting was a hobby cultivated by regular citizens. […]

[There were numerous collections] built up by Dutch carpenters, merchants, tradesmen and artisans. The enthusiasm for collecting, in Holland at least, could be seen at all levels of society, but with the most notable collections owned by burghers and regents, in contrast to the kings, nobles and prelates of other European countries. And there is the rub. It was customary for families to sell off these ‘rariteitenkabinets’ and divide the spoils following the death of the collector. Accordingly, most Dutch collections of significance left the country, purchased by foreign nobility and no intact collections have survived; adding an interesting element of documentary detective work to scholarly assessments.

But at least a documentation of these collections has survived. The wonderful Bibliodyssey for instance liberally quotes a picture book by Levinus Vincent (1658-1727) called “Wondertooneel der Nature” (Wonder Stage of Nature).

Via BoingBoing.

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