Abstract

Through an examination of the work of the author and collector Antoine-Joseph Dezallier d'Argenville and of the dealer Pierre Remy, this essay articulates the ways in which notions of connoisseurship, taste, and order intersected in the collecting of both naturalia and art in eighteenth-century France. It suggests that what brought things like gardens, shells, and paintings together was a concern with visual expertise, with outlining and deploying practices of specialized diagnostic looking; and, second, that this interest in the enskillment of vision arose from the practices and spaces of collecting and display—on the one hand, the commercial world of the dealer, the sales auction, and the sales catalog; on the other, the cabinet or the collection as a space for learning to look. Natural history textbooks and auction catalogues both served as guides to looking, outlining a complex hierarchy of visual expertise that ranged from the curieux to the amateur to the connoisseur. Cabinets functioned not only as accumulations or assemblages of objects, but also as spaces for learning to see in expert ways and for articulating notions of order and taste.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 85-111
Launched on MUSE
2012-11-08
Open Access
No
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