Alexander was the founder of the world’s first arts and crafts museum

Baron Alexander von Minutoli (1806-1887) was the creator of one of the very first decorative arts museums in Europe, the first of the nineteenth century, a precursor of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, and made extensive use of photography to spread taste and knowledge.

In 1839, the same year that photography was invented, the Prussian ministry sent him to Liegnitz (now Legnica, Poland) to develop local crafts in a period of economic crisis. Having inherited from his father a passion for art history and collecting, Minutoli had brought back many decorative art objects from his travels. In order to stimulate industry by example and restore the lost unity of art and crafts, he created a new kind of museum; no art museum or curiosity cabinet, but a collection of models of the best in decorative arts since antiquity, organized by materials and periods. In 1845, the King of Prussia granted him the use of about ten rooms in Liegnitz Castle to display the objects.

Minutoli wanted to address a national, even international audience. He therefore developed a system for lending the original works and antiques to Prussian schools of applied arts. This caused some damage. Minutoli then imagined a loan of watercolours; then, of daguerreotypes (the photographer Louis Birk produced a few dozen plates for him). The Crystal Palace Exhibition, held in London in 1851, gave him the opportunity to present them to the world.

But these were fragile, and as soon as the collodion process was invented, Minutoli took up this major innovation. In 1853, he hired a 23-year-old young man from Liegnitz’s school of applied arts, Ludwig Belitski.

Using an ingenious splash system and a 9-foot (2.74-metre) Dollond telescope, Minutoli and Belitski made up a corpus of more than 150 photographs on salted paper.

Presented at the 1855 Paris Universal Exhibition, it opened with a lithographed title page: “Models for craftsmen and manufacturers from the collection of the Minutoli Institute for the Improvement of Trade and the Promotion of the Arts in Liegnitz”.

PWT 35-2018 Count Minutoli

06.09.2018 PWT N°34-2018 Et si c’etait ainsi que naissait le premier poète ?

Et si c’etait ainsi que naissait le premier poète ?Quelle mystérieuse nécessité intérieure a poussé le jeune Francisco a noircir des milliers de pages de poèmes ? Et à devenir l’auteur du livre le plus rare et le plus mystérieux de Nouvelle Grenade.Comment la poésie s’est-elle imposée à un homme de vingt ans, né en 1647 dans une capitale du Nouveau Monde comptant 3000 cachupines pour une altitude de 3000 mètres. Est-ce l’éducation reçue chaque jour dès 5.45 du matin dans le collège des Jésuites ?

(Theophile Bouchet, Hommage à Alvarez de Velasco)

Est-ce le fait de se retrouver Gouverneur d’une foret vierge, avec pour seuls compagnons quelques milliers de travailleurs autochtones et de bien plus encore d’animaux sauvages ?

Francisco Álvarez de Velasco y Zorrilla (1647-1708). Rhytmica sacra, moral, y laudatoria, impresso por distintos impressores, en diferentes lugares y tiempos [Burgos-Madrid, 1700-1703]

No one would have ever heard of Alvarez de Velasco if he had not fallen benevolently in love with a distant poetess from the North, Juana-Ines, who had become a nun to protect her independence, by taking refuge in a convent in the gigantic Mexico City area 3000 km away. If, by being appointed ambassador of the colony of New Granada in Spain, Francisco had not secretly organized a possible and furtive meeting in 1702 during the necessary Mexican stage before the dangerous crossing of an ocean at the mercy of enemy privateers, he might never have known that his love had already died seven years earlier.

Despair filled his heart and arrived in Spain on a long convoy loaded with gold, amidst naval battles and burning ships, he set out in search of those who had known or edited the poems of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. He agreed with Clemente Puche or Puich who had engraved the beautiful portrait as the titlepage of the Works of the Phoenix of Mexico two years earlier.

PWT 34-2018 Alvarez de Velasco