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Room 6: The Cabinet

The Lisa and Bernard Selz Gallery

From the mid 16th to the early 18th century, many people put together collections of objects that combined the wonders of nature with man-made treasures. These ranged from modest accumulations of rarities to vast private museums, according to the interests and wealth of their owners.

A collection might include a combination of things inherited, received as gifts from other collectors, bought on the market, or acquired as war booty. Collectors ranged from emperors and princes to doctors, apothecaries, artists, university professors and learned women. Collections of rare and wondrous things were sources of knowledge and resources for scientific investigation, as well as status symbols for their owners.

Room 6 [Map] is part of the new Europe 1600-1815 galleries

View all objects in Europe 1600-1815, Room 6


Video: The Endymion Cabinet

This film explores the design of a 17th-century French ebony cabinet, showing how it would have been used by a collector.


Samuel Quiccheberg

Samuel Quiccheberg was art advisor to the Duke of Bavaria in Munich. In 1565 he published the first book offering a system of headings for organising collections. Some of Quiccheberg’s headings have been used as a tool for looking at the V&A’s collection from a fresh perspective and bringing parts of it together in new combinations.

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