Seminar Programme

The Institute of Historical Research at the School of Advanced Studies of the University of London hosts our seminar on Collecting & Display. The monthly seminars take place at the Institute, Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU. Seminars begin at 6.00 and last approximately one hour. 

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The Society for the History of Collecting has recently been formed to encourage communication among scholars in the field through its website https://societyhistorycollecting.wordpress.com and events.  The international forum Collecting and Display  will continue its activities, holding monthly seminars, organising conferences and publishing.  The two organisations are intended to be complementary.  To contact the Society please see its website or email  sochistcoll@gmail.com.

LONDON 2019

NEXT SEMINAR:   

Monday, 4th March 6 p.m. Annette Cremer will speak to us on:

The life and work of Augusta Dorothee (1666‐1751), Princess of Brunswick, who married the protestant Graf Anton‐Günther II of Schwarzburg/Thuringia, has been ignored so far by historiography as well as art history. Becoming a childless widow in 1716, she spent the remaining 35 years of her life at Schloss Augustenburg, surrounding herself with a large courtly household. During this time, she intensely focused on building and commissioning a “doll city”, which she used to call “Mon Plaisir”, including 2000 items and 400 figurines.

Auguste Dorothee’s collection is an unusual example of female representation and negotiation of power and authority within her dynasty, the agnate family and also local subordinates. The miniature world mirrors life at her court and partly at the residency of Arnstadt, including the bourgeoisie as well as crafts and the religious life of the time. It is to be understood as an expression of her claim to power as former sovereign of the principality. As result of her niece Elisabeth Christine becoming the wife of Emperor Karl VI Habsburg, Auguste Dorothee converted to Catholicism. But neither her close relationship to the Kaiser nor her father, Duke Anton Ulrich of Wolfenbüttel, helped her during the lengthy conflict with her late husband’s heir concerning her financial support.

The collection of dolls, as part of a bigger cabinet of curiosities, as well as a porcelain‐cabinet and her ambition as entrepreneur, show her as absolute ruler in concordance with virtues explained in tract literature. Auguste Dorothee deliberately used the Wunderkammer as a medium of male representation for her own statement. As most parts of the collection were handcrafted by the princess and her court and regional craftspeople, it can also be seen as an uncommon means of keeping contact with subordinates while displaying superiority at the same time.

In the paper she will argue that Auguste Dorothee used the traditional female occupation of needlework and turned it from a virtuous occupation into a strategy to represent her power.  Thus Auguste Dorothee tried to enlarge the social space appointed to her. The dollhouse interiors show her as powerful ruler over her own territory, although in reality she was unimportant and powerless.


Dr. phil. Annette C. Cremer MA (Art History & English Literature) teaches cultural history at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany. Her main research interests are in the fields of early modern material culture and in the history of kunstkammer-collections. Her monograph on the dollhouse collection of Duchess Auguste Dorothea of Schwarzburg (1666-1751) was published in 2015. Together with other colleagues, she has edited three sets of conference proceedings on Objects as Sources of Cultural History (Objekte als Quellen der historischen Kulturwissenschaften, Wien/Köln/Weimar 2017), on Prince and Princess as Artists (Fürst und Fürstin als Künstler, Berlin 2018) and on Travelling Princesses (Prinzessin unterwegs. Reisen fürstlicher Frauen in der Frühen Neuzeit, Berlin 2017). Visiting Fellow History Faculty, Cambridge 2018/19

Monday 13th May - details to follow










The Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU