Thesis ID: CBB221747253

Articulate Furnishings: German Cabinetmakers and the Construction of Elite Experience and Intellectual Culture, 1550–1650 (2023)


This dissertation extends beyond the art historical canon and traditional methodologies to redirect scholarly attention back to a crucial aspect of early modern life: bodily experience and knowledge creation. Framing the early modern collector’s cabinet as a display technology specific to the Kunst- und Wunderkammer, or art and curiosity collection, I illuminate the crucial role of the German cabinetmaker in constructing the interactive furnishings that mediated the cognitive and bodily perception of objects of knowledge of elite collectors in the sixteenth century. Joining the static functions of object preservation and organization with the dynamic performativity of concealment and revelation, collector’s cabinets staged novel and short-lived patterns of interactions between early modern persons and objects. The construction, decoration, and contents of the most spectacular of collector’s cabinets not only impelled but also actively invited the physical handling of objects. Four chapters contextualize the iconographic, representational, material, organizational, and interactive properties of collector’s cabinets alongside contemporary inventories, devotional literature and practices, and treatises on collecting and natural history that document early modern approaches to knowledge acquisition. Grafting previously unmapped forms of early modern experience onto masterworks of artisanal skill and ingenuity, this study illuminates the ingenuity of sixteenth-century German cabinetmakers who revolutionized early modern persons’ perceptions of and interactions with (art) objects.

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Authors & Contributors
Achim, Miruna
Almeida, Bruno
Dupré, Sven
Jorink, Eric
Knoeff, Rina
Lüthy, Christoph H.
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Journal for the History of Astronomy
Journal of Global History
Journal of the History of Collections
LIT Verlag
The Grolier Club
Scala Arts & Heritage Publishers
Prohistoria Ediciones
Collectors and collecting
Cabinets of curiosities
Crafts and craftspeople
Natural history
Curiosities and wonders
Material culture
Ruysch, Frederick
Aldrovandi, Ulisse
Bacon, Francis, 1st Baron Verulam
Brunschwig, Hieronymus
Falloppio, Gabriele
Kepler, Johannes
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
18th century
Early modern
19th century
Great Britain

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