Exposition : « Illustrious Guests. Treasures from the Kunstkammer Würth in the Kunstgewerbemuseum », Berlin, Staatliche Museen, 10 décembre 2021-10 juillet 2022
Since 2006, around 30 small works of art from the Würth Collection have been on display at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. As part of the special exhibition at the Kunstgewerbemuseum, the exquisite works of the Kunstkammer Würth will now be presented on a much larger scale. Following up on the exhibition Anthony Caro: The Last Judgement Sculpture from the Würth Collection at the Gemäldegalerie (20 December 2019 to 1 November 2020), this is the second instalment in a four-part exhibition series, as the Würth Collection is featured at different branches of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
With their broad spectrum of collections, which included both objects of art and natural artefacts of various origins, European kunstkammers (cabinets of art and curiosities) conveyed the entire cosmos. These royal collections were not just established in the service of personal enjoyment and contemplation, they were also shaped by material interests and a desire to display power. Kunstkammers existed as symbols of wealth and status, played a role in maintaining diplomatic relations, and also functioned as investments. But some individuals were spurred to build their collections by a thirst for knowledge, as well . The title Illustrious Guests not only refers to the high artistic, material and intellectual value of the objects, but also alludes to the potential of the objects to “illustrate” the world(s) (from the Latin illustrare; “to enlighten, explain, glorify”).
Kunstkammers Were Especially Popular in the 16th and 17th Centuries
After flourishing during the 16th and 17th centuries, even many of the more substantial and distinguished kunstkammers were disbanded in the 18th century or merged into other collections. Over the years, the businessman Reinhold Würth has collected a considerable number of the scattered objects that have stood the test of time, with a focus on works from the collector’s home region of Hohenlohe, Germany. In this special exhibition, around 70 exhibits – including small sculptures, goblets, other drinking vessels and elaborately designed boxes made of precious materials – provide a representative insight into, and overview of, the Kunstkammer Würth. This selection of works is enriched by individual pieces from the Kunstgewerbemuseum and the Bode-Museum of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
The exhibition places two historically unique collections side by side, those of the Kunstkammer Würth and the Kunstgewerbemuseum. Together, they bear witness to the richness and radiance of historical kunstkammer collections, revealing the diversity and artistic quality of their objects.