To Have And To Hold: An Intimate History Of Collectors and Collecting
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Blom's gripping narration and bizarre cast of eccentrics, visionaries, and fanatics provide a fascinating glimpse into how a pastime becomes an all-consuming passion.
From amassing sacred relics to collecting celebrity memorabilia, the impulse to hoard has gripped humankind throughout the centuries. But what is it that drives people to possess objects that have no conceivable use? To Have and To Hold is a captivating tour of collectors and their treasures from medieval times to the present, from a cabinet containing unicorn horns and a Tsar's collection of teeth to the macabre art of embalmer Dr. Frederick Ruysch, the fabled castle of William Randolph Hearst, and the truly preoccupied men who stockpile food wrappers and plastic cups. An engrossing story of the collector as bridegroom, deliriously, obsessively happy, wed to his possessions, till death do us part.
Maria had sought to shield her son. There was no love lost between her and her husband, and the tension between them was mirrored by the constant feuding of papist and Protestant sympathizers at the Vienna court. To have her sons travel to her own country, to Spain, and into her brother’s sphere, was a personal triumph for Maria. Though a staunch Catholic, Philip II was nothing like the religious fanatic of popular myth but rather a worldly king and a skilful politician who did much to open
height, for he stood six foot seven in his heavy boots and towered over the other carpenters like a man-o’-war over a posse of Dutch barges. He was, of course, Tsar Peter the Great (1672–1725), who had come to western Europe with his ‘Great Embassy’ in 1697–8. When his imposing presence rendered his incognito useless, he became less concerned about preserving his anonymity. Peter was a voracious collector not only of tools and objects of natural history, but also of natural oddities and freaks.
Bastard-Spanish-Moorish-Romanesque-Gothic-Renaissance-Bull-Market-Damn-the-Expense Style and an extravaganza previously unseen even in the United States. It was, writes his biographer, ‘not built from scratch to suit certain living needs, but was a mosaic of Hearst’s memories, inspirations and possessions. In his card-index memory he had recollections of decorative schemes and arrangements he had seen in European castles and cathedrals, and which he wished to incorporate in his own palace’.8 He
Mazarin’s own little gigue with the reaper: Le Mort The Dead Man Fol est qui damaser se blesseHe is a fool who injures himself by amassing things On ne scet pour qui on amasseAnd no one knows why people cannot help but do it Le BourgeoisThe Bourgeois Grant mal me fait: il si tort laissierIt pains me to leave so early Rentes: maisons: cens: nourituresThe rents and houses, interest and food Mais poures: riches: abaissierBut you humiliate poor and rich: Fu faiz mort: telle est ta nature.You kill,
1608–1667, London, 1914, vol. III. 4 Topsell, p. 91. 5 Stirn visited Tradescant in 1638. His account is preserved in manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford: ‘An Illustrated Account in German of the Travels of a Student of Altdorf, 1632–40’, MS ADD 438 B.67. 6 Elias Ashmole, Diary, quoted in Allen, p. 192. 7 Ibid., Appendix. The Exquisite Art of Dr Ruysch 1 Bacon, vol. III, 1857, pt III, bk 2, p. 330. 2 A. M. Luyendijk-Elshout ‘Death Enlightened’, in Jama 212, 1970, p. 121. 3 In the