University of Cambridge > > Cabinet of Natural History > Picturing the world, fashioning the self: Marcus zum Lamm collects naturalia in Calvinist Heidelberg

Picturing the world, fashioning the self: Marcus zum Lamm collects naturalia in Calvinist Heidelberg

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  • UserFrederick Crofts (Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen)
  • ClockMonday 30 January 2023, 13:00-14:00
  • HouseZoom.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Silvia M. Marchiori.

Between 1564 and 1606 the Heidelberg lawyer, courtier, Calvinist church councillor, and ‘lover of the painted arts’ Marcus zum Lamm (1544–1606) collected an unprecedented ‘storehouse’ of images and texts, the Thesaurus Picturarum. The thirty-three surviving volumes of Lamm’s Thesaurus approach an encyclopaedic assortment of themes, ranging from illustrated chronicles, diary entries, and religious polemic, through to ornithology, meteorology, astrology, teratology, prodigies, art, topography, costumes, and ethnography. Lamm’s Thesaurus represents a subjective prism through which to view the development of Calvinist Heidelberg’s extraordinary moment of religious and cultural assurance prior to the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48). Moreover, it demonstrates the instrumentality of artworks, object collections, international networks, and global knowledge production for achieving the politico-religious ambitions of the Palatine electors and their court at Heidelberg. By examining Lamm’s many natural philosophical images and reports in the wider context of his collection, this talk argues that the Thesaurus Picturarum needs to be interpreted as a visual ego-document. As such, Frederick Crofts will reveal the ways a Reformed courtier combined his love of art and natural knowledge with autobiographical details in order to build his world and connect with others. Frederick will argue that Lamm’s naturalia collection helped him to project his self-image as an indispensable servant of Calvinism and the state; provided him with a potent means of forging emotional bonds within his milieu; and formed an integral part of his self-narrative as a divinely appointed witness to Heidelberg’s unfolding destiny at the centre of international Protestantism.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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