Unicorns’ horns, mermaids’ skeletons, stuffed and preserved animals and plants, work in precious metals, clocks, scientific instruments, celestial globes …all knowledge, the whole cosmos arranged on shelves. Such were the cabinets of curiosities of the seventeenth century, the last period of history when man could aspire to know everything.
Who were the collectors? They were archdukes and kings—the Emperor Rudolf II was the prince of all collectors—rich merchants and scholars, and their collections ranged from a single crowded room to whole palatial suites. Patrick Maurie`s traces the amazing history of these “rooms of wonders” in this ingeniously erudite survey. Not many of the rooms survive, though there are pictorial records, but their contents still exist and are among the treasures of museums all over the world.
Packed with so many images it will appeal to art libraries as well, but is recommended here for its special interest to collections appealing to collectors of oddities.
— The Midwest Book Review
Mauriés’ tour of strange objects is entertaining and fascinating. His chapters …reflect a deeply intellectual appreciation.
— Antiques & The Arts Weekly
[This book] is an entertaining read with hundreds of images of both the collectibles and the elaborate presentations fashioned for them during the great age of collecting.
— The Bloomsbury Review
Patrick Mauriès is a writer, publisher, critic, and collector. His previous books include Jewelry by Chanel and Cabinets of Curiosities.