Prudence, Techne and the Practice of Good Governance in the Early Modern Kunstkammer

Andrew Morrall's picture
April 12, 2019
New York, United States
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Early Modern History and Period Studies, German History / Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

Location:  Bard Graduate Center, 38 West 86th St, New York, NY 10024.

Organizers: Andrew Morrall (BGC, New York) and Mark A. Meadow (University of California, Santa Barbara). 

Prudence, Techne, and the Practice of Good Governance in the Early Modern Kunstkammer

In 1565, Leo Quiccheberg wrote a brief dedication to Emperor Maximilian II, recommending his brother Samuel Quiccheberg’s treatise on collecting, the Inscriptiones vel tituli Theatri amplissimi. By reading Samuel’s book, the ruler would learn “… what, from founding a theater of this sort, might be gained for Your Majesty’s prudentia from such a Kunst und Wunderkammer.” Written at the moment when the Habsburgs, Wittelsbachs, and other princely houses were first establishing collections as state institutions, this is among the earliest texts to connect museums with the ability to govern wisely and effectively. This conference explores the intertwined histories and philosophies of governance, techne, and collecting in the early-modern period. In particular, speakers will examine how the intersection of these three realms was informed by a newly pragmatic sensibility.


9:30 Peter N. Miller, Bard Graduate Center:  Welcome

Andrew Morrall, Bard Graduate Center, Mark A. Meadow, University of California, Santa Barbara:  Introduction

Texts/Theory/Codification of Ideas

9:50 am Mark A. Meadow, University of California, Santa Barbara: Quanta prudentia et usus administrandæ reipublicæ: Mylaeus and Quiccheberg on the Utility of Techne

10:30 am Vera Keller, University of Oregon: Jakob Bornitz and the Cameralists’ Kunstkammer

11:10 am Coffee Break

11:30 am  Alessandra Russo, CoIumbia University: An Indestructible “Indian World” of Artists: Art, Prudence, and Desire in Bartolomé de las Casas’s Apologetic History

12:10 pm Lunch Break

Collections and Objects

1:30 pm Jessica Keating, Carleton College: Fruits of the Flesh: Abundance and Prudence in the Collection of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II

2:10 pm Andrew Morrall, Bard Graduate Center: “For practical utility [and] noble meditations”: Craft, Techne, and the Pursuit of Virtue in the Early Modern Kunstkammer

2:50 pm Coffee Break

Techne and Practice

3:10 pm Tina Asmussen, ETH Zurich: Mining Investment and Antiquarian Practices in Late Sixteenth-Century Basel

3:50 pm Ana Matisse Donefer-Hickie, The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Noble Art: Alchemy at Court

Comment and Roundtable

4:30 pm Pamela H. Smith, Columbia University: Comment

5:15 pm Reception

Contact Info: 

Organizer: Andrew Morrall, Professor, Bard Graduate Center, 38 West 86th St, New York, NY 10024. tel: 212- 501-3042

Contact Email: