Follow Us on Twitter

Art of the Curious at Colnaghi

Art of the Curious installation shot. Contemporary collection of curiosities recreating the composition in a Vanitas Still Life painting by Peeter Sion the Elder (1624-1695).

Exhibition preview

THE concept of the Kunstkammer has undergone a revival in recent years and its appeal is highlighted by the number of strange and alluring objects that have been sold during the first week of the intriguing exhibition Art of the Curious at Colnaghi, 15 Old Bond Street, London.

The show is a collaboration between Colnaghi’s paintings and drawings departments and Kunstkammer Georg Laue of Munich, the leading gallery specialising in Kunst- and Wunderkammer objects of the Renaissance and Baroque. It is open to the public until October 25, 2013.

There was great enthusiasm for the extraordinary natural and artistic marvels and early sales included two Vanitas skulls: a 17th century German ivory skull (asking price £12,000) and an 18th century carved wood example (ap £8,000).

Other somewhat macabre objects which have also found favour are a group of pickled animals including a fish, snake and lizard (ap £600 each), from the natural history cabinet of the Vienna ‘Volksheim’, circa 1900, and an anatomical model of a cockchafer beetle by Louis Auzoux, circa 1875, (ap £18,000).

Scientific instruments are widely collected and among those sold are an English 18th century draughting instrument with perpetual calendar (ap £3,000) and two sundials: an English horizontal example by Michael Butterfield (1635-1724) in its original leather case, signed Paris, circa 1680, (ap £3,500), and a German cubic sundial by David Beringer (1756-1821), Nuremberg, circa 1790, (ap £3,800).

The Rijkmuseum’s Decorative Arts Fund acquired a mid 18th century elaborate design for a silver cutlery set by an Augsburg Master (ap £4,000) while natural history studies also proved popular with the sales of the wonderful drawing of Adriatic algae (Conferva Künhans) by the Italian artist Abate Stefano Chiereghin (1745-1820) (ap £2,400), and the German ink and black chalk rubbing of leaves, dated 1779, (ap £2,400).

Art of the Curious draws its inspiration from the cabinets of curiosities put together by princely collectors, wealthy burghers and influential scholars from the 16th to the 18th centuries but it also includes works by contemporary artists responding to these earlier traditions including ceramicist Natasha Daintry, whose arrangements of pots, ranging in price from £300 to £1,400, were much in demand.