Without much internet access last week while I was visiting Vienna, I couldn’t blog about my food escapades. Now that I’ve returned home, after over 24 hours of travel time, it’s occurred to me that I’ve included food art, but not art art in my posts. I’m going to remedy that starting with an update about Kunstkammers.
I had the opportunity to visit not one, but two Kunstkammers this month. In Munich, the Kunstkammer of the Wittelsbach family resides in the Residenz. Duke Albrecht V in the 1560s built a Kunst- und Wunderkammer (a room filled with objects of art and marvel) to hold his collection of treasures which included art, nature, and the synergy of both. Today this part of the München Residenz is called the Treasury or Schatzkammer. This name indicates that the origin of the collection likely functioned as a treasury, whereby objects within could be melted down to make weapons or traded or sold (silver or gold) to support Bavaria as needed. Of course, as the collection grew, Albrecht V began amassing wonders and marvels, some of which were deemed by him to be inalienable treasures of the House of Wittelsbach (meaning they could not be removed or sold from the Wittelsbach family). Here are some of my favorite Wittelsbach treasures from the Kunstkammer of the Münich Residenz.
The Diana and Stag automaton (above) is perhaps the most fun marvel. It was used as part of a drinking game in the Renaissance. The stag’s head can be opened to hold wine or other drink. It would have been wound up, and then set on a dining table. As an automaton, it would travel around the table, and wherever it stopped, the dinner guest closest to it would have to drink the entire contents of the vessel. The early modern dinner parties must have been so much fun!
A few more treasures from the Münich Residenz — architectural and decorative treasures to be more precise.
Next time… the Kunstkammer at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. Here’s a sneak peek with Benvenuto Cellini’s Saliera.