More shiny things at the met

by grace on January 3, 2020

first, they kept referring to the word “kunstkammer” in many of the objects in the collection and i didn’t read anywhere what that meant. i found it on the website.

Each of the remarkable pieces in this gallery proved the maker’s—and by extension the owner’s—understanding of nature and resulting ability to harness its power. Rulers kept these objects in a space known in the German-speaking provinces as the Kunstkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, which functioned simultaneously as a place of amusement, a retreat for scientific investigation, and a political showcase of magnificence. Some of the artworks in these collections, which were carefully calculated to demonstrate a family’s divine right to rule, eventually became dynastic heirlooms of great importance.

I couldn’t get a good photo of this, so I took this picture from the website. It has the biggest green diamond in the world! The only one of its kind!

Hat ornament with the “Dresden Green” from the Diamond Garniture 1769, older elements Vienna 1746 by Franz Diespach

This ornament features the largest natural green diamond in the world, the only one of its type ever found. Elector of Saxony Frederick Augustus II bought the 41-carat gemstone in 1742. It was used in several royal jewels, including a pendant of the Order of the Golden Fleece, before his grandson, Frederick Augustus III, had it incorporated—together with two round white diamonds of 6.3 and 19.3 carats, and over four hundred smaller diamonds—into this piece, which has remained untouched since 1769. Formed deep in the earth under immense pressure, diamonds were perhaps the most mythologized gemstone, thought to protect the wearer from poison, madness, and evil dreams. This diamond’s captivating, evenly distributed green color resulted from a rare type of ionizing radiation underground. The cutter departed from common eighteenth-century practice to fashion a modified pear-shaped brilliant gem, precisely faceted to enhance its sparkle.

Just about everything in the collection was so unique and interesting, it’s a miracle we’re not still there looking at it all.

Here’s another thing that’s one-of-a-kind; It’s called a “solar observation shield,” from the 1st quarter of the 17th century. German They’re not sure what it was for.

This mysterious instrument has been in the collection of the Esterházy princes since 1696. It is likely the only one of its kind, and its function remains unknown. The height of the large disk of blue glass atop the striking wood and silver mount is adjustable; it may have been used to shield the eyes of a person observing an eclipse or the movement of the sun.

These cool things were a little bit like a pop-up book; you can move the rings around. It’s called an Astronomicum Caesareum, by German Michael Ostendorfer in May 1540.

Petrus Apianus’s book on geocentric planetary theory incorporates several hand-colored movable disks (or volvelles) that function as part of sophisticated scientific instruments. The reader could manipulate the prints to demonstrate astronomical measurements and predict the latitude and longitude of celestial bodies. Apianus dedicated his book to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and his brother and successor, Ferdinand I.

A German Mining Compass from 1561

Tools like this one were designed to measure the tunnels and shafts of silver mines, a major source of wealth for the Saxon electors. Like the adjacent gunner’s level, this ornate version of the instrument was intended not for everyday use but for display in the Kunstkammer. It bears representations of the Renaissance planetary gods with their corresponding metals and astrological signs, including sun/gold/Leo; Venus/copper/Taurus; Mercury/mercury/Gemini; moon/silver/Cancer; Saturn/lead/Aquarius; and Jupiter/tin/Sagittarius.

I didn’t take a picture of this and actually don’t even remember seeing it, but this is the aforementioned gunner’s level. very shiny and cool!

Fitted into the mouth of a cannon, this gunner’s level was designed to sight targets, improve the precision of the weapon’s aim, and ease calculation of the ball’s trajectory. Gunner’s levels could measure angles much more accurately than cannons could shoot, and were rarely used on the battlefield. Beautiful versions like this were kept in the Kunstkammer to incite learned discussions of ballistics. The object’s function is reflected in its ornamentation: the spandrels are engraved with war paraphernalia, including a cannon, shield, breastplate, and muskets.

An Odometer from 1584. Odometer! 1584!

In 1551, Elector Augustus of Saxony undertook the mapping of his estates, and in 1564 an adviser suggested he use an odometer for this endeavor. Augustus commissioned this engraved machine from Christoph Trechsler. Mounted on a carriage, the odometer measured distances based on the circumference and rotation of the carriage’s wheels and displayed them in miles on the faceplate. It could record long distances on sheets of paper. The mapping table attached to the dial displays a facsimile sheet that shows the 160-mile route from Siemerode (Silberode) to Torgau.

A “wire-drawing bench of the Saxon Electors.” The description is so long that i thought i’d summarize it, but in reading it, it seems very interesting to me.

The bench is designed for the production of thin wire from gold, silver, and other metals. The end product was used in the decoration of weapons, furniture, and vessels, and for weaving and embroidery. Threaded through a draw plate, the metal was pulled with pincers and wound around a drawing winch to be cranked along the bench. The process was repeated through successively smaller holes in the draw plates to obtain the desired diameter. Goldsmiths had used tools of this type since the late Middle Ages, but this unusually large example would have outperformed the smaller models in most workshops. With it, a skilled artisan could also cut screws, springs, and fine moldings. It is unclear whether Augustus used the bench himself, but he and his guests would have appreciated its state-of-the-art design. A Prince Practitioner Augustus, Elector of Saxony, commissioned this innovative device from the Nuremberg artist-engineer, cabinetmaker, and screw maker Leonhard Danner. Affectionately nicknamed “Father Augustus” and “Mother Anna” by their people, the ruler and his wife both sought out activities in agriculture, alchemy, and medicine that might help to improve the Saxon economy. The Kunstkammer Augustus assembled in Dresden reflects these interests: at the time of his death nearly 80 percent of its holdings were related to the arts and sciences. Marvelous Marquetry The size of the bench made it a perfect canvas for an extravagant program of marquetry, or decorative inlaid wood, designed by an unknown artist with the initials “A.M.” to appeal to Augustus’s tastes. In addition to his practical work, the elector crafted his public image by staging elaborate tournaments. The long sides of the bench feature tournament scenes, while each end features his coat of arms. The inclusion of disparaging caricatures of Catholics reflects Augustus’s status as a strict adherent of the newly established Protestant faith. The Bench and Its Parts Augustus had the bench and its accompanying tools installed in his Dresden Kunstkammer in 1566. While the piece and most of its accessories are now in the collection of the Musée National de la Renaissance in Écouen, France, its drawing winch, wire roll, and a lifting jack also by Danner remained in Dresden. The engraved drawing winch and the wire roll are part of the bench’s mechanism. The various parts are reunited here for the first time in North America.

I wanted to add a video from the met’s website about how this thing works but i’m not able to do it so you can click on this link and scroll down to it if you want to watch.

Here’s are two more objects with videos, both very cool. This is “Automaton Clock in the form of Diana on her Chariot.” in the video you can see her eyes moving back and forth, it’s really something.

One specialty of Augsburg clockmakers was the combining of timepieces with silver sculpture to create automata. Diana, goddess of the moon and hunt, was a popular subject among European nobility because hunting was a privilege and a pastime of rulers. The two harnessed leopards drawing the chariot here refer to Diana’s reputed ability to command wild animals. Automata played a role in drinking games at courtly banquets. The effects that can be seen and heard here—the chimes sounding the quarter hour, the chariot’s operation, the animals’ action, and the steady movement of Diana’s eyes—are all generated by one mechanism inside the ebony base. When the contraption stops, the goddess shoots her arrow: the guest nearest its landing place must drain his or her cup of liquor.

This is an “Automaton Clock in the form of an Elephant.”

The mahout (elephant keeper), the turbaned Ottoman warriors, and the crowning crescent all allude to the Eastern origins of the elephant. Within the Kunstkammer the elephant represented rulership. This automaton clock, which strikes at both the quarter hour and the hour, is driven by a movement connected to a wheel mounted on the walkway of the howdah (saddle). On the hour, the four Muslim warriors revolve around the brickwork tower. The mahout thumps his arm up and down, as though he were leading the animal, and his counterweighted eyes move back and forth as the machine travels. Visit the Making Marvels page at The Met’s website to see a video of this piece in motion.

I really hope you check out the link to the videos because they’re really amazing!

Even though i did my best to not post too many photos of the fabulous stuff in the collection, i still have about four more to go.

ok then,

mrs. h, still trying to banish a new year’s cold.

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