Sites of mediation

Dr. Nadia Baadj

assoziiertes Postdoc-Mitglied

Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Uni Bern

email: Nadia Baadj

weitere Informationen:

Website Universität Bern



    • Art and visual culture of early modern Northern Europe, ca. 1400-1700
    • 16th- and 17th-century Dutch and Flemish painting
    • Intersections between art, science, and natural history
    • Artists’ materials and techniques in the early modern period
    • Technical Art History and Art Conservation
    • Early modern collections and material culture
    • European Decorative Arts, 1500-1800
  • Research project

    Research project

    Enterprising Craftsmanship and Exotic Encounters in Seventeenth-Century Kunstkasten

    This study explores the production, circulation, and reception of multimedia art cabinets (kunstkasten) that were produced through the collaboration of a wide range of artists and artisans in the Low Countries and Southern Germany and were exported throughout Europe and the Americas in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In both their contents, which included artworks, precious objects, naturalia, and exotica, and their hybrid composition these cabinets reflected on a microcosmic scale the role of cities like Antwerp and Amsterdam as storehouses for raw materials and goods from around the world. In addition, the cabinets’ diverse, global materials and multi-tiered construction process fostered collaboration and design innovation among a broad spectrum of practitioners, often transgressing guild boundaries, while their incorporation of pictorial programs that quoted from Netherlandish paintings, prints, maps, and book illustrations promoted and widely disseminated local idioms.

    Drawing on recent scholarship on the history of collecting (e.g. Daniela Bleichmar, Christine Göttler, Claudia Swan) and the history and theory of craftsmanship, artisanal knowledge, and materials (e.g. Glenn Adamson, Sven Dupré, Ann-Sophie Lehmann, Andrew Morrall, Pamela Smith), this interdisciplinary project examines kunstkasten through the lens of cultural, economic, social, and intellectual circumstances in early modern Europe and explores the relationship between these specific contexts and the materials, form, function, and reception of art cabinets. My investigation combines archival research with close examination of the cabinets themselves and theoretical approaches from a range of disciplines including art history, material culture studies, history of science and technology, anthropology, and architectural history. In contrast to scholarship that has generally viewed kunstkasten as static pieces of furniture or domestic ornament, I reconsider them as global objects, embedded in an intricate matrix of material, commercial, and patronage networks that spanned Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas; as mobile, three-dimensional spaces, whose portability and interactive interiors were responsible for eliciting a range of cognitive and physical reactions from beholders; and as dynamic sites of engagement between the pictorial and plastic arts, optics, mathematics, architecture, and diverse crafts and luxury industries.