During the Renaissance, in an age before the advent of the museum, Europe’s learned noblemen competed to amass the rarest and most provocative items the world had to offer. Sculpted pieces of amber, ivory, and coral were included in these collections, as were natural wonders such as fossils and narwhal horns. They also sought man-made tools and trifles ranging from clocks to medical instruments to works of trompe l’oeil. These objets d’odd were often displayed in handsome cabinets called kunstkammers, a German word meaning “chamber of curiosities.”
Of course, the items did more than educate and excite; they also made a statement about the gentleman collector. “The kunstkammer was a symbol of his richness, power, and knowledge. It showed he was interested in the arts and sciences,” says Munich-based dealer Georg Laue, whose 6-year-old gallery, Kunstkammer Georg Laue, concentrates on these remarkable objects. Laue fell under the spell of the kunstkammer in college and now enthusiastically introduces clients to its puzzling pleasures. Judging by the crowds that constantly swirled through his TEFAF Maastricht booth, today’s noblemen find these exotic items as intriguing as their forebears once did.
Kunstkammer Georg Laue, +49.89.2781.8555, www.kunstkammer.com