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A Cabinet of Rarities: Antiquarian Obsessions and the Spell of Death

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The manifestation of a collector's appetite for discovering and mastering the world-represented by singular items of natural history, geology, art, or relics - cabinets of curiosities and rarities became popular in the Renaissance and were precursors to the modern museum. Largely inspired by seventeenth-century scientist and antiquary Sir Thomas Browne, whose esoteric writings have long appealed to scholars, this rare new work is a bibliophile's delight. Erik Desmazieres's contemporary etchings present a cabinet of rarities portraying a collection of the recondite, rare, and bizarre, complete with emblems of the vanity of earthly life and intimations of mortality. Death and decay are favorite subjects: a skull recalls depictions of Sir Thomas Browne's own, disinterred and displayed in a local museum until the 1920s. These abstruse objects and specters of death, subject matter once considered the preserve of specialists, have entered the cultural mainstream and have found a broad popular audience. Hardcover, 110 pages

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  • Item # 978-0500516348