Introduction by Mark A. Meadow
Translation by Mark A. Meadow and Bruce Robertson
Samuel Quiccheberg’s Inscriptiones, first published in Latin in 1565, is an ambitious effort to demonstrate the pragmatic value of curiosity cabinets, or Wunderkammern, to princely collectors in sixteenth-century Europe and, by so doing, inspire them to develop their own such collections. Quiccheberg shows how the assembly and display of physical objects offered nobles a powerful means to expand visual knowledge, allowing them to incorporate empirical and artisanal expertise into the realm of the written word. But in mapping out the collectability of the material world, Quiccheberg did far more than create a taxonomy. Rather, he demonstrated how organizing objects made their knowledge more accessible; how objects, when juxtaposed or grouped, could tell a story; and how such strategies could enhance the value of any single object.
Quiccheberg’s descriptions of early modern collections provide both a point of origin for today’s museums and an implicit critique of their aims, asserting the fundamental research and scholarly value of collections: collections are to be used, not merely viewed. The First Treatise on Museums makes Quiccheberg’s now rare publication available in an English translation. Complementing the translation are a critical introduction by Mark A. Meadow and a preface by Bruce Robertson.
Mark A. Meadow is associate professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His publications include Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Netherlandish Proverbs and the Practice of Rhetoric (Waanders: Zwolle, 2002) and a translation of Symon Andriessoon’s Duytsche Adagia ofte Spreecwoorden (Verloren: Hilversum, 2003). Bruce Robertson is professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture and director of the Art, Design & Architecture Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
“[This book] is a milestone in the critical analysis of the origins and development of the concept of collecting and museums.”
“The value for us today is in having ‘a consummate insider’s account of the foundation of the museum as an institution.’ Endnotes and color plates expand this scholarly look at early collecting. Cultural anthropologists and collectors will appreciate Quiccheberg’s insights and descriptions of creating the ultimate Wunderkammer.”
—Maine Antique Digest
“[a] highly readable translation.”
—Sixteenth Century Journal
7 x 10 inches
8 color and 17 b/w illustrations
Imprint: Getty Research Institute
Series: Texts and Documents