chapter  5
Early modernist collectors
Pages 13

Early modern Europe, roughly the period from 1500 to 1700, saw fresh attempts to understand the world which (among other things) involved an enhanced interest in collecting and the organisation of collections, which was both a manifestation of the developing cast of mind and an important element in the way in which that mind was shaped. Collecting became a passion. As the decades progressed, cities like Paris, London, Venice and Amsterdam became particularly prominent, the centres for those who were intellectually, as well as acquisitively, curious, and of dealers who could supply their needs. By 1714 Valentini in his Museum Museorum was able to list a total of some 658 known collections, many from their published catalogues (Htillen 1990: 270). But many more persons were involved than this because collections were passed from hand to hand, the whole forming an intensive web of contact and descent which spans the centuries and is one of the most conspicuous and interesting aspects of the tradition, and one which needs tracing in detail.