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Short history of Collecting

Posted By: Di Mano in Mano Coop - Athina In: Art On: Comment: 0 Hit: 1346


he collection of objects and works of art is an activity practiced by man since ancient times which over the centuries has undergone a development connected with the social and cultural evolution of the various eras.

If at first it was mainly linked to religious needs - for example, the funerary objects in the Egyptian tombs and the variety of sculptures inside the Greek temples - with the passage of time the accumulation of works assumes political purposes , as a demonstration of your power.

To this end, therefore, the display of the collections becomes necessary, which begin to be enjoyed by an audience that also appreciates their artistic quality.


n Roman times, private individuals who place statues inside their gardens and private homes began to appear, depriving them of spiritual functionality in favor of aesthetic attention.

A glimpse of Villa Adriana in Tivoli


uring the Middle Ages, however, there was a return to the close connection between a work of art and religion.

The main places of collection of artistic goods are those related to worship, such as churches. In this context, the display of artistic heritage is essential as a teaching aid to the Christian religion, and the use of precious materials such as gold or stones is synonymous with one's devotion.


he birth of modernly understood collectors began to assert itself during the fifteenth century, when the gentleman collected art objects exclusively for their aesthetic qualities, and exhibited them inside rooms specifically designed for this purpose.

The first printed representation of a wunderkammer

The desire to show one's power remains always present, through the ability to guarantee precious artifacts or the services of prestigious artists. During the following century this practice was consolidated through the spread of galleries and picture galleries, open to an ever wider public, despite the fact that it was always made up of the nobility.

A substantial change follows in the exhibition of the works, which must not only satisfy the aesthetic taste of the owner but also of all those who have access to the collection. Also in these years in Northern Europe the Wunderkammer, "Chambers of Wonders", which bring together mirabilia, that is objects capable of arousing amazement in patrons as rare or bizarre specimens of natural history or artifacts.

Sicilian Wunderkammer of the seventeenth century, Palermo, Regional Gallery of Sicily

In the following centuries the collection of objects increasingly occupies a public dimension: the collections of princes and lords are forfeited by the newborn states or in any case they are exhibited in locations close to today's conception of the museum, with days and times of openness defined and therefore accessible to citizens, who can enjoy it and know the artistic traditions belonging to their own culture.


o date, collecting continues to be a widespread activity that has reached degrees of specialization thanks to the vast and heterogeneous offer.

Increasingly expanding, the art market is able to satisfy buyers' requests and to go against various portfolio needs, making collecting a democratic activity accessible to many.

The substantial difference with the past is precisely the fact that it is no longer characterized by its elitism: it is potentially accessible to anyone who wants to enjoy artistic masterpieces or important and refined antique furnishings.

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