Art and Curiosity Cabinets of the Late Renaissance: A Contribution to the History of Collecting
Available January 2021
Julius von Schlosser Edited by Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann Translation by Jonathan Blower
For the first time, the pioneering book that launched the study of art and curiosity cabinets is available in English.
Julius von Schlosser’s Die Kunst- und Wunderkammern der Spätrenaissance (Art and Curiosity Cabinets of the Late Renaissance) is a seminal work in the history of art and collecting. Originally published in German in 1908, it was the first study to interpret sixteenth- and seventeenth-century cabinets of wonder as precursors to the modern museum, situating them within a history of collecting going back to Greco-Roman antiquity. In its comparative approach and broad geographical scope, Schlosser’s book introduced an interdisciplinary and global perspective to the study of art and material culture, laying the foundation for museum studies and the history of collections. Schlosser was an Austrian professor, curator, museum director, and leading figure of the Vienna School of art history whose work has not achieved the prominence of his contemporaries until now.
This eloquent and informed translation is preceded by Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann’s substantial introduction. Tracing Schlosser’s biography and intellectual formation in Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century, it contextualizes his work among that of his contemporaries, offering a wealth of insights along the way.
Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann is Frederick Marquand Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. Author and editor of numerous books, articles, and reviews, he has received honorary doctorates from universities in Brno and Dresden, among other distinctions. He is a fellow of the Swedish, Flemish, and Polish Academies of Sciences and of the American Academies in Rome and Berlin. Jonathan Blower is a translator of German texts on the visual arts.
“This first English translation of Julius von Schlosser’s classic study of the Kunstkammer (1908) is a cause for celebration by anyone interested in the history of collections. Directly or indirectly, his book inspired a legion of studies on early modern art and curiosity cabinets, a subject that continues to captivate our imagination and has shaped the appearance of some museum displays. Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann’s penetrating introduction examines Schlosser, his intellectual contributions as a curator and teacher, his place within Viennese art history around 1900, and his subsequent reputation.” —Jeffrey Chipps Smith, Kay Forsten Chair in European Art, University of Texas, Austin
“Schlosser’s book is a classic of art history: still a standard text for all students of the first great age of collecting, but one which, previously unavailable in English, had remained unfamiliar to a wider audience. This translation, whose virtuosity matches that of Schlosser’s original writing, is here combined with a superb appreciation by Kaufmann of the author's life and works. Schlosser used the extraordinary world of the “cabinet of curiosities” to explore not only how and why museums came into being, as repositories of universal learning and global outreach, but also the gestation of distinctly modern notions of “art” and “nature” and of the “artificial” over against the “natural,” concepts that coexisted in multifarious ways in the minds of the collectors he describes.” —R.J.W. Evans, Regius Professor of History emeritus, University of Oxford
232 pages 7 x 10 inches 7 color and 103 b/w illustrations, 1 line drawing ISBN 978-1-60606-665-2 paperback
Getty Publications Imprint: Getty Research Institute Series: Texts & Documents