New Book | The Cobbe Cabinet of Curiosities

Posted in books by Mattie Koppendrayer on July 7, 2014

From The Paul Mellon Centre and Yale UP:

Arthur MacGregor ed., The Cobbe Cabinet of Curiosities: An Anglo-Irish Country House Museum (London: The Paul Mellon Centre for British Studies, 2014), 480 pages, ISBN: 978-0300204353, $125 / £75.

Cobbe Yale UPThis lavishly produced volume presents a survey and analysis of a fascinating cabinet of curiosities established around 1750 by the Cobbe family in Ireland and added to over a period of 100 years. Although such collections were common in British country houses during the 18th and 19th centuries, the Cobbe museum, still largely intact and housed in its original cabinets, now forms a unique survivor of this type of private collection from the Age of Enlightenment.

A detailed catalogue of the objects and specimens is accompanied by beautiful, specially commissioned photographs that showcase the cabinet’s component elements. Reproductions of portraits from the extensive collection of the Cobbe family bring immediacy to the narrative by illustrating the personalities involved in the collection’s development. Scholars contribute commentary on the significance of the objects to their collectors; also included are essays outlining, among other topics, the place of the cabinet of curiosities in Enlightenment society and the history of the Cobbe family. Extracts from the extensive family archive place the collection in its social context.

Arthur MacGregor is a former senior assistant keeper in the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

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