The Kunstkammer and the Early Modern Consort: Knowledge, Networks and Influences

Engraving of Anna of Denmark, Simon de Passe, London, England, 1616, E.3113-1960. Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This project explores an important yet neglected aspect of early modern patronage. I am investigating how the consorts of continental male rulers played a significant part in shaping displays of power through artistic patronage and collecting. The project focuses upon the Kunstkammer (cabinet of curiosities) and Pretiosa collections (collectibles of precious materials), political tools intended to display splendour, knowledge and ambition. It will analyse how patronage and collecting phenomena from Northern continental Europe fed into wider networks of influences, which also shaped patronage at the British Court. The key role of Anna of Denmark (1574-1619) will be compared with case-studies from the influential court culture of Electoral Dresden. The project will shed light on these topics of increasing scholarly interest, by shifting emphasis to the activities of female consorts. Kunstkammern are fundamentally about the discovery of the world: the far-away, but also the immediate territory. Collections simultaneously expressed absolute power, new knowledge, and expanding networks. The importance of researching the Kunstkammer as an early modern phenomenon lies with its strong connection to the development of the modern state, hence the arts between philosophical, political and economic ideas.

Intended outcome

The outcome of the project will be a book proposal and a scholarly peer-reviewed article. The project also connects closely with work being undertaken for the V&A’s new Europe 1600-1800 Galleries (opening December 2014)

Project Lead:

Dr. Lisa Skogh. Lisa is a Wenner-Gren Fellow, with additional funding from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien.

Related Links Lisa Skogh
Lives and Letters


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Event - A sleeping dog from Venice: the meaning of a Personal Favourite from the Gilbert Collection

Wed 03 December 2014 13:00

LUNCHTIME LECTURE: One of the most endearing works featured in the V&A current display Personal Favourites is a Venetian silver bowl from around 1480 with the image of a sleeping dog.

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