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Visual Order to Organizing Collections

Cabinets Of Curiosity

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, collectors arranged a diversity of natural and crafted objects within decorative furniture cabinets, as well as within rooms that served as cabinets of curiosity. When one enters Isabella d'Este's grotto in Corte Vecchia, one feels that one is inside an elaborate jewelry box. Ornate marquetry woodwork decorates the doors to the cabinets that once contained her valuables; the distinctive perspective pictures would remind her of the exact location of her antiquities protected in this room.

At the corner of the Hall of the Five Hundred in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, is the restored study of Francesco I, the work of Giorgio Vasari in 1570–1575. Under the vaulted ceiling, there are numerous paintings. A door behind the sixth painting, Alessandro Allori's Cleopatra's Feast, with his Pearl-fishing above, opens to a staircase leading to the tesoretto, a small treasure room with eleven cupboards, one of which leads to a further room below. In the context of Francesco I's collecting, Allori's Cleopatra's Feast is his Pearl-fishing, a playful allusion to the hunting for treasure below.

The studiolo in the ducal palace of Urbino plays with this genre by appearing to show the contents of cabinets in its Pallas Expelling the Vices from the Garden of Virtue (1499–1502) by Andrea Mantegna. Oil on canvas. Some early collectors drew a parallel between culture and horticulture, a view reflected in Mantegna's painting, in which order is restored in a garden setting. RÉUNION DES MUSÉES NATIONAUX / ART RESOURCE elaborate marquetry. While the open door at the front of the protruding central panel of squirrel and flower bowl is not in fact a door, a door on the right side of that panel does in fact open. Duke Federigo da Montelfeltro kept treasures in two cubicles below his studiolo: a temple to the muses for antiquities and a chapel to God for his relics. Also, his library contained several hundred manuscripts; some of those authors are featured in the portraits on the upper walls above the marquetry of his studiolo.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Verbena Family (Verbenaceae) - Tropical Hardwoods In The Verbena Family to WelfarismVisual Order to Organizing Collections - Hunting For Precious Objects, Horticulture And Culture, Cabinets Of Curiosity, "portraits" Of Authors