Thesis ID: CBB001560739

The Munich Kunstkammer: Art, Nature, and the Representation of Knowledge in Courtly Contexts (2007)


Pilaski, Katharina (Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara
Meadow, Mark

Publication Date: 2007
Edition Details: Advisor: Meadow, Mark
Physical Details: 298 pp.
Language: English

The Kunstkammer that Albrecht V, Duke of Bavaria (reg. 1550-1579), founded in Munich in the 1560s was one of the largest in Central Europe and among the first princely collections explicitly conceived as a site for the storage and production of universal knowledge. It was distinguished by its particular emphasis on the representation of the territory and dynasty of its founder and the ubiquitous use of documentary imagery. My dissertation focuses on these aspects of the collection, and inquires into the functions the Kunstkammer served in the context of this Counter-Reformation court. I argue that it was conceived to play a role in the larger program of the centralization of Albrecht's power and the territory's confessionalization in the wake of the Council of Trent. Throughout this dissertation, I analyze the collection's connection to the museological treatise published by Samuel Quiccheberg at the Munich court in 1565. The Kunstkammer was a product of the topical tradition, and it can be understood as a translation of printed encyclopedic projects into the realm of objects. This means that the collection was meant to serve fundamentally pragmatic functions; it was perceived as a site for the representation and production of knowledge considered useful for the governance of the territory. On the basis of my research in the archives and rare book collections in Munich, I anchor my analysis of the Kunstkammer 's epistemology in the context of the intellectual milieu of the Bavarian court. Looking at how the collection was structured by its confessional context, I analyze the function of objects documenting wondrous natural events throughout the territory, and elucidate the particularly Catholic approach to natural prodigies and their role in confessional argument. Finally, I inquire into period perceptions of the epistemological status of documentary imagery, relating the reproductions of natural objects in the Kunstkammer to the use of reproductions of body parts and the function of images within votive practice, and to the natural-philosophical discourse about the powers of art to reproduce nature.


Description On the collections of the Kunstkammer of Albrecht V, Duke of Bavaria, founded in the 1560s. Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 68/02 (2007). Pub. no. AAT 3252784.

Reviewed By

Review Felfe, Robert (2015) Review of "The Munich Kunstkammer: Art, Nature, and the Representation of Knowledge in Courtly Contexts". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 710-712). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Boner, Patrick J.
Gómez López, Susana
Tosi, Alessandro
Leonhard, Karin
MacGregor, Arthur G.
Yaya, Isabel
Journal of the History of Collections
Victorian Literature and Culture
Acta Historica Leopoldina
History of Science
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Archives of Natural History
Yale University Press
University of Minnesota Press
Northwestern University
University of California, Berkeley
Collectors and collecting
Science and art
Natural history
Curiosities and wonders
Kepler, Johannes
von Hohenburg, Hans Georg Herwart
Bausch, Johann Lorenz
Akeley, Carl Ethan
Daniel Weiman
Brahe, Tycho
Time Periods
16th century
17th century
19th century
Early modern
18th century
Bavaria (Germany)
Universität Ingolstadt

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