Munich Kunstkammer

Spatmittelalter, Humanismus Reformation No. 73


By Katharina Pilaski Kaliardos
August 2013
Mohr Siebeck
Distributed By Coronet Books Inc.
ISBN: 9783161521881                         
233 pages
$170.00 Hardcover

The Kunstkammer that Albrecht V, Duke of Bavaria, founded in Munich in the 1560s was among the first princely collections conceived as a site for the storage and production of universal knowledge, and was distinguished by a particular emphasis on the representation of the territory and dynasty of its founder. In her study, Katharina Pilaski Kaliardos focuses on the collection’s functions in the context of the larger program of the centralization of princely power and the territory’s confessionalization in the wake of the Council of Trent. For the first time, this study anchors the Kunstkammer in the immediate context of the intellectual milieu of the Bavarian court, reconstructing the interests of courtiers related to the collection’s epistemology. In light of the museological treatise published by Samuel Quiccheberg at the Munich court in 1565, the author analyzes the Kunstkammer’s connection to the topical tradition and encyclopedic projects of the time, arguing that the collection’s original ambition was to be a fundamentally pragmatic site for the representation and production of knowledge useful for the governance of the territory. An analysis of objects documenting wondrous natural events throughout the territory elucidates the particularly Catholic approach to natural prodigies and their role in the collection’s confessional argument. In her exploration of period perceptions of the Kunstkammer’s profuse holdings of documentary imagery, Kaliardos situates reproductions of natural objects in the context of contemporary religious practice, and in the natural-philosophical discourse about the powers of art to reproduce nature.


Return to Coronet Books main page