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Picture of Collecting Nature

Collecting Nature

Editor(s): Andrea Gáldy, Sylvia Heudecker
Contributors: Anne Harbers, Shepard Krech, Iordan Avramov, Lisa Kirch, Virginie Spenle, Rachel King, Joy Kearney, Inga Elmqvist,
Subject: Science

Book Description

Nature can be collected in many forms and shapes: live animals have been locked up in cages, displayed in zoos and menageries and their hides and dried body parts have been used as part of installations in galleries and studies. Plants from far-away countries have been cultivated in botanical gardens and in hothouses. Furthermore, the depiction of medicinal plants and of prized animals was regarded as an important part of the decorative schemes, in an attempt to bring nature indoors.

Recent research has also shown that artificialia and naturalia were displayed side by side in early modern Europe—sometimes in the company of scientifica—and that the exhibition set-up often included a complex arrangement of stables, kennels, aviaries, art gallery and library. Villas and country houses displayed favourite horses as well as paintings and antiquities. Botanical gardens and gardens of simples at monastic foundations and universities imposed order and intellectual scope to the cultivation of many new species imported to Europe during the age of exploration.

Of particular interest to the mission of this working group is the fact that so many collections of naturalia were displayed in close proximity to other collecting categories, according to a similar choreography as well as according to a similar logistical set-up. Thus, the collections, outdoors as well as indoors, resemble one another in terms of labels adopted and discussions conducted on the respective merits of order and categorisation.

The essays in the present volume, therefore, connect art, nature and science by tracing objects, as well as the practices of collecting and display from the early kunst- und wunderkammern to the more scientific aspirations and publications of the eighteenth century. Indoor as well as outdoor locations of collecting are considered as well as the dissemination of objects and knowledge in the form of books during a period, which gradually led from an intrinsic, if untidy, connection between art and nature towards a new world of clear, if unhappy, divisions.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-6055-0
ISBN-10: 1-4438-6055-7
Date of Publication: 01/08/2014
Pages / Size: 195 / A5
Price: £41.99


Collecting and Display ( is the name of a working group founded by three scholars in 2004. The group has been running a research seminar at the Institute of Historical Research (University of London) since 2005 and in Florence from 2008 to 2012. Collecting and Display have organised summer conferences in London, Ottobeuren, Florence and Irsee since 2006. This volume not only marks a new collaboration between Collecting and Display and Schwabenakademie Irsee, but also between Andrea M. Gáldy, founding member of Collecting and Display and a specialist in sixteenth-century collecting history, and Sylvia Heudecker, director of programmes at Schwabenakademie Irsee with a special interest in cultural studies of the early modern period. This book, the fifth in the series, celebrates the transition into a new special series Collecting Histories published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.