By Marjorie Swann
A craze for amassing swept England through the 16th and 17th centuries. Aristocrats and middling-sort males alike filled their houses choked with a bewildering number of actual gadgets: old cash, clinical tools, minerals, mummified corpses, zoological specimens, vegetation, ethnographic items from Asia and the Americas, statues, snap shots. Why have been those extraordinary jumbles of artifacts so popular?In Curiosities and Texts, Marjorie Swann demonstrates that collections of actual gadgets have been valuable to early sleek English literature and tradition. Swann examines the well-known choice of rarities assembled via the Tradescant family members; the improvement of English typical background; narrative catalogs of English panorama positive factors that started to appear within the Tudor and Stuart sessions; the writings of Ben Jonson and Robert Herrick; and the root of the British Museum.Through this wide-ranging sequence of case stories, Swann addresses very important questions: How used to be the gathering, which used to be understood as a sort of cultural capital, appropriated in early sleek England to build new social selves and modes of subjectivity? and the way did literary texts—both as fabric gadgets and as autos of representation—participate within the means of negotiating the cultural value of creditors and gathering? Crafting her precise argument with a stability of aspect and perception, Swann sheds new mild on fabric culture's courting to literature, social authority, and private id.
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Extra resources for Curiosities and Texts: The Culture of Collecting in Early Modern England
Upon the death of the younger Tradescant in 1662, his widow, Hester Tradescant, had a monument to the family erected in the churchyard of St. Mary in Lambeth. When the tomb was repaired in 1773, it was inscribed with an epitaph which had been composed for but not added to the first incarnation of the monument. "lo6 In assessing the behavior of seventeenth-century English entrepreneurs, Richard Grassby has argued that there was "a hndamental difference of attitude between the self-employed of every occupation, who had to generate their own income, and those living on salaries or passive, unearned income from property.
By 1610 Tradescant was in the service of the Cecils, the Earls of Salisbury, first at Hatfield House and later at Salisbury House and Cranborne as well. The Cecils were extensively renovating Hatfield and its grounds, and in 1611 - 3O CHAPTER I Figure I. The collection of Ferrante Imperato, from Ferrante Imperato, Dell'historia naturale (Venice, 1672), frontispiece. Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas. Tradescant was sent to the Low Countries and France to buy bulbs, plants, and trees suitable for the grand gardens laid out around the rebuilt house.
As art historian Ronald Lightbown observes, "The history of royal and princely collecting in the sixteenth century is in many ways the history of how the tastes of lettered humanists . . "29Humanism thus came to inform the agendas of elite European art collectors, first on the Continent and then in England. From the fifteenth century onward, "the Greek world simply served as a quarry" for European statue hunters, as "antique marbles were more eagerly pursued than any other kind of work of art, more even than pict u r e ~ .