More at the Met

by grace on January 2, 2020

After looking at the Impressionists at the Met on Thursday, Dec. 12th, mom and i wandered around a little and then walked by an exhibit and decided to go inside. It’s called “Making Marvels: Science & Splendor at the Courts of Europe.”

And it was, well…marvelous. But also, naturally, overwhelming in its scope. Here’s the blurb about it from the Met website:

Exhibition Overview

Between 1550 and 1750, nearly every royal family in Europe assembled vast collections of valuable and entertaining objects. Such lavish public spending and display of precious metals was considered an expression of power. Many princes also believed that the possession of artistic and technological innovations conveyed status, and these objects were often prominently showcased in elaborate court entertainments, which were characteristic of the period.

Making Marvels” explores the complex ways in which the wondrous items collected by early modern European princes, and the contexts in which they were displayed, expressed these rulers’ ability to govern. Approximately 170 objects—including clocks, automata, furniture, musical instruments, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, print media, and more—from both The Met collection and over fifty lenders worldwide are featured. Visitors will discover marvelous innovations that engaged and delighted the senses of the past, much like twenty-first-century technology holds our attention today—through suspense, surprise, and dramatic transformations.

Most of the stuff was shiny and fabulous, and since i’m like a Magpie when it comes to shiny/fabulous things, of course i loved it all. But there were about 170 objects, a whole lot, so i just started taking photos as well as photos of the descriptions so i could read about them later.

If you look at the link above you can peruse some of them for yourself. My goal right now is to post a few of them, as opposed to all the pictures i took.

Here’s the info about the piece above, a planetary clock:

Comissioned by Otto Henry, Count Palatine and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, and later sold to Emperor Ferdinand I, this planetary clock is unsurpassed in its complex mechanisms and was celebrated as a technical marvel in its time. Designed by mathematician Philipp Imser, its delicately engraved faces provide an overview of the entire cosmos at a glance; the clock represents the apparent motion of the planets in real time, visualizing even the subtle nonuniformity of that motion as seen from Earth. Along with accurate astronomical displays, this piece features five mechanical figures (automata) powered by the clockwork. The videos in this gallery show the female figure that circles the tower once an hour, her outstretched arm serving as the minute hand. Over the course of the hour, she passes four doors that reveal in turn the three ages of man (child, adult, elder) and a skeleton—a reminder that time is up. The videos also feature the sound of the movement and the chimes.

I mean, there was also a video! there were videos for many of the things, the 170 objects, all of which were interesting and beautiful. It’d be nice to have had a couple days to look at them all.

An Ostrich…

These vessels show how Renaissance knowledge of exotic animals blended observed behaviors with symbolic associations. The horseshoe grasped in the beak of the ewer by Hans Clauss I refers to the birds’ supposed ability to digest iron, which was viewed as a metaphor for strength. Marx Weinhold and Johann Mittnacht I engaged another heavily symbolized aspect of ostrich behavior: the sunburst pattern on the basin refers to the belief that the animals’ eggs were incubated not by their body heat, but by the sun, an idea Renaissance scholars associated with the Immaculate Conception.

What a fabulous tankard! it’s Czech, from 1585.

Cranes, such as the one on the lid of this tankard, symbolized alertness, an essential attribute of the wise prince. Princes used objects like these to communicate their personal virtues and those of their realm; no doubt mined in Bohemia, the garnets encircling the tankard demonstrated the land’s richness. The princely owner may have believed that the beveled rock crystal, sometimes called “the frozen tears of the gods,” would keep the liquid inside cold.

This is called a “grotesque wild boar.” It’s a combo of a boar, a bat, and some kind of aquatic creature.

When Kunstkammer objects were too artistically important to have their silver components melted down, they sometimes evolved into family heirlooms and were protected from being sold. This hybrid boar, bat, and aquatic creature entered the Eltz treasury in 1738, when zoomorphic vessels were fashionable. It has remained in the family’s treasury since. Renaissance medical texts ascribed coconuts beneficial powers, which would have been understood to act on the liquid inside the cup.

Here’s a fabulous German amber casket from 1680.

One of the most treasured materials in central Europe, amber can be found to this day along the Baltic coast. Amber artworks manufactured in Danzig were particularly sought after. Early modern texts on the properties of gemstones linked the fiery appearance of the ancient petrified resin to medicinal properties: crushed amber was used in remedies to dry out “moist” diseases.

A Western Astroblade from 1591.

Tobias Volckmer made this astrolabe prior to his appointment as goldsmith and mathematician to the Bavarian court. He may have created the lavishly decorated object for Emperor Rudolf II, who was keenly interested in astronomy and astrology. Admired as the “queen” of scientific instruments, the astrolabe combines a model of the cosmos and a universal calculating tool. One side bears a two-dimensional projection of the world that can demonstrate the apparent rotation of the stars; the other side serves as a tool for calculating angles.

Of course i have yet more photos from this collection which i’ll be posting soon…

ok then,

mrs. h.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: