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Collecting and Classifying New World Plants and Artefacts

Wunderkammern powerpoint

Dioscorides/Fuchs powerpoint


  • Why did John Gerarde believe people should study plants? What role did first-hand experience play in his system of knowledge?
  • Why did collectors assemble Kunstkammern? What factors governed the selection and display of objects? How important was it that the objects in the collection arouse wonder?
  • How interested were 16th-century Europeans in new world plants and artefacts?
  • Did viewing new world objects help Europeans ‘understand’ the Americas?

Primary Sources

  • Gutfleisch, Barbara, and Joachim Menzhausen, ‘Gabriel Kaltemarck’s Advice to Christian I of Saxony on the Formation of an Art Collection, 1578’, Journal of the History of Collections, vol. 1:1 (1989): 3-32.
  • Gerarde, John, Of the Histories of Plants, in Encompassing Nature: A Sourcebook, ed. Robert M. Torrance, Counterpoint (Washington D.C., 1998), pp. 766-773.

Required Secondary Reading

  • Feest, Christian, ‘European Collecting of American Indian Artefacts and Art’, Journal of the History of Collections vol. 5:1 (1993).

Additional Readings

  • Ashworth, William, ‘Emblematic Natural History of the Renaissance’, Cultures of Natural History, eds. N. Jardine, J. Secord and E. Spary, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 1996).
  • Barrera, Antonio, ‘Local Herbs, Global Medicine, Commerce, Knowledge, and Commodities in Spanish America’, in Pamela Smith and Paula Findlen (eds.), Merchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science and Art in Early Modern Europe (New York/London, 2002), pp. 163-181.
  • Cook, Harold J., ‘Global Economies and Local Knowledge in the East Indies: Jacobus Bontius learns the Facts of Nature, in Londa Schiebinger and Claudia Swan, eds., Colonial Botany: Science, Commerce and Politics in the Early Modern World, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, 2005), pp. 100-118.
  • Cook, Harold J., Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age, Yale University Press, 2007.
  • Cook, Harold J., ‘Time’s Bodies: Crafting the Preparations and Preservations of Naturalia’, Pamela Smith and Paula Findlen (eds.), Merchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science and Art in Early Modern Europe, Routledge (New York and London: 2001), pp. 223-247.
  • Daston, Lorraine, ‘Curiosity in the Early Science’, Word and Image 11, no.4 (1995): 391-404.
  • Daston, Lorraine and Katharine Daston Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750, Zone Books (New York: 1997).
  • Evans, Richard, Rudolf II and His World: a Study in Intellectual History Oxford University Press, (Oxford, 1973).
  • Feest, Christian, ‘The Collecting of American Indian Artifacts in Europe, 1493-1750’, America in European Consciousness, 1493-1750, ed. Karen Ordahl Kupperman, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, 1995).
  • Findlen, Paula, ‘The Museum: its Classical Etymology and Renaissance Genealogy’, Journal for the History of Collections 1 (1989), pp. 59-78.
  • Jardine, Lisa, Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance (London/New York, W.W. Norton, 1996), chapter: Culture of Commodities.
  • Kaufmann DaCosta, Thomas: The Mastery of Nature: Aspects of Art, Science, and Humanism in the Renaissance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), chapter 7: From Mastery of the World to Mastery of Nature, pp. 174-194.
  • Mason, Peter, ‘From Presentation to Representation: Americana in Europe’, Journal of the History of Collections, vol. 6:1 (1994).
  • Meadow, Mark, ‘Merchants and Marvels: Hans Jacob Fugger and the Origins of the Wunderkammer’, in Pamela Smith and Paula Findlen (eds.), Merchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science and Art in Early Modern Europe (New York/London, 2002), pp. 182-200.
  • Mullaney, Steven, ‘Strange, Things, Gross Terms, Curious Customs: The Rehearsal of Cultures in the late Renaissance’, Facing Each Other, ed. Pagden, pp. 188-212.
  • Pomian, Krzyztof, Collectors and Curiosities: Paris and Venice, 1500-1800 (trans. By Elizabeth Wiles-Portier (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990 [1987]).
  • Schnapper, A., Le Geant, la licorne, la Tulipe. Collections et collectionneurs dans la France du XVIIe siecle. 1: Histoire et histoire naturelle (Paris. 1988).
  • Shakelford, Jole, ‘Documenting the Factual and the Artifactual: Ole Worm and Public Knowledge’, Endeavour 23 (2) (1999): 65-71.
  • Shelton, Anthony Alan, ‘Cabinet of Transgression: Renaissance Collections and the Incorporation of the New World’, in Cultures of Collecting, ed. by John Elsner and Roger Cardinal (London: Reaction Books, 1994), pp. 177-203.
  • Smith, Pamela, and Findlen, Paula (eds.), Merchants ands Marvels: Commerce, Science and Art in Early Modern Europe (New York/London, 2002), Introduction.
  • Whitker, Katie, ‘The Culture of Curiosity’, in Cultures of Natural History, ed. by Nicholas Jardine and Emma Spary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 75-90.