Detail from a print featured in the first part of Vincent’s Wondertooneel der Nature – Source.
Bert van de Roemer explores the curiosity cabinet of the Dutch collector Levinus Vincent and how the aesthetic drive behind his meticulous ordering of the contents was in essence religious, an attempt to emphasise the wonder of God’s creations by restoring the natural world to its prelapsarian harmony.
The cabinet of curiosities of the collector Levinus Vincent (1658-1727) was known as one of the finest and most remarkable in the Dutch Republic during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
A visitor once stated that, in the same way that nobody would believe you could visit Rome without seeing the pope, so nobody would believe you‘d visited Amsterdam without seeing Vincent’s collection. Vincent himself called his collection a “Wonder Theatre of Nature” (Wondertooneel der Nature).
Detail from the frontispiece to Vincent’s Wondertooneel der Nature, showing the Explorer having a sneaky peek at what Nature has to offer.
The collection comprised of eight cabinets containing, among other things: 600 phials of animal cadavers in spirits, 288 boxes of indigenous and exotic insects, 32 drawers of shells and crustaceans, 14 drawers of minerals and fossils, and a cabinet with a woodland-like scene created from different kinds of corals and sponges.