During the 17th and 18th centuries, before the development of modern museums, Cabinets of Curiosities or Wunderkammer were all the rage. They combined sculpture and painting with natural objects like fossils, minerals, and shells, as well as antiquities and ethnographic objects.
The “cabinets” could be entire rooms, or what we think of today as a cabinet. I love them because they represent the interests of the educated gentlemen of the time. And I happen to be drawn to all the same things. I especially love fossils and minerals as well as beads and glass objects.
One of my favorite poems is The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes, which describes how the mollusk moves from one chamber to the next over his lifetime, sealing off the previous one…
Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
He ends with the famous line, Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul!
I am very fond of gem and mineral spheres as well as glass spheres. This one is by glass artist Josh Simpson. It is from his “planets” series.
I also love agates, especially ones with “eyes.”
This is a very fine charoite sphere from Russia. Charoite is only found in a particular part of Siberia near the Chara river, and began to be exported in 1978.
What woman doesn’t love a monster of a gemstone? I haven’t had these set, but would like to. The rectangular ones are a little under an inch in width. They’d make great cocktail rings or pendants.
Every Cabinet of Curiosities needs a painting or two. This one is a favorite by Dutch artist Hans Meertens.