Developing collections of images is really nothing new, just maybe how to go about it is. After having recently become interested in The Gallery of the Louvre I decided to compile my own collection of historic encyclopedic paintings, or Pintrest boards of long ago, if you will. This collection type painting became popular in the 1600s. Sometimes called cabinet paintings, because they displayed a collection of things in a cabinet, or small room, like setting, these paintings are monumentally detailed works of art. I am finding them fascinating particularly when related to the present day obsession with Pintrest and other sites that provide a format for a personal collection of images in essentially a cabinet like setting. So look with me at these interesting paintings, and remember collecting an image before 1850 was not an easy task, you painted it, drew it or carved it or had someone do this for you and this accomplishment was known as art. Put down your iPhone long enough to think about and grasp this unfamiliar concept.
The Gallery of the Louvre, Samuel B Morse, The Terra Museum of American Art
I have decided to place Gallery of the Louvre first in my collection of cabinet paintings although it is, admittedly, the weakest of the paintings I have collected as examples for this post. I think it is important to remember the development of fine art has always been about studying the great art that came before and learning the techniques. An American in 1832, I am unsure where Morse would have had an opportunity for study that would enable him to develop, an in depth understanding of the techniques of the great masters until he went to Europe on his “study abroad.” So naturally, without this crucial training his painting would be weak in comparison. Unfortunately, when Morse brought the painting home to America, he did not develop the “followers” he had hoped. None the less his cabinet painting, Gallery of the Louvre, is considered a key piece in the development of American art.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
I have included Zoffany’s Academicians, which has hung next to Tribuna for two hundred years in the Royal Collection. Believed to have been conceived as a pair the two paintings show an interesting contrast and tell an interesting story. Tribuna displays a collection of the art…Academicians displays a collection of the artists. Interesting side by side because of the contrast of light and dark, and the contrast of the amount of detail in one, the more casual interpretation in the other. However, both reflect the tools of the artistic trade…notice in the foreground of Tribuna the tools needed to stretch a canvas are meticulously conceived…probably also insulting to Queen Charlotte.
Probably first recorded in The Royal Collection during the reign of George III. The Queen seems to have the market cornered on these most magnificent of all the cabinet paintings. I wonder if she is on Pintrest…I have heard she has an iPhone.
Chamber of Art and CuriositiesFranz FranckenMany times cabinet paintings of this type included not only an art collection but also other collected curiosities. Remember with only the painted image for reference, many unknown and unseen before images were interesting and educational. Such as this collection of shells and other sea creatures.