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A Cabinet of Rarities

Antiquarian Obsessions and the Spell of Death

Érik Desmazières


For bibliophiles, connoisseurs of contemporary printmaking, and everyone whose imagination is fired by the macabre


With breathtaking virtuosity and a unique, dreamlike vision, Érik Desmazières – a master of contemporary printmaking – re-creates interiors, cityscapes and fantastical compositions.

For this book - the first to include the artist's rare work in colour - Desmazières has delved deep into the arcane theme of cabinets of curiosities. Taking as his starting point the melancholy musings of the seventeenth-century antiquary Sir Thomas Browne, he has reinterpreted these shadowy collections of the recondite, rare and bizarre – precious corals, shrunken heads and magical artefacts – as a series of meditations on the vanity of earthly life. Death and decay are never far below the surface, as a depiction of Sir Thomas Browne’s own skull, disinterred and displayed in a museum until the 1920s, reminds us.

The erudite text by Patrick Mauriès traces the preoccupations of Browne and his fellow collectors through history, showing how abstruse objects and spectres of death - subject matter once considered the preserve of specialists - have now entered the cultural mainstream.

Rich in atmosphere, refreshingly strange and exquisitely produced, A Cabinet of Rarities is a bibliophilic treasure for anyone whose imagination is fired by the esoteric and macabre.

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'Elegantly macabre … provokes a titillation of fear, which is not unpleasant when safely enclosed by hard covers'
Irish Times

Product Information

Book Details

Format: PLC (with jacket)

Size: 28.0 x 21.0 cm

Extent: 110 pp

Publication date: 8 October 2012

ISBN: 9780500516348

Contents List

The Artist-Engraver • The Virtuoso • Reawakenings

About the Author

Erik Desmazières is a French engraver and printmaker, who is represented in numerous important public and private collections all over the world.

List of Contributors

Patrick Mauriès