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Picturing Antiquity
Cassiano dal Pozzo’s “Paper Museum” and Its Offspring

“Paper museums” owe their name to the Italian scholar, collector, and art patron Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588–1657), who—with his brother Carlo Antonio—assembled one of the finest 17th-century collections of drawings. Their collection of thousands of sheets of paper was dubbed Museo cartaceo in Italian, and its goal to was use this anthology of images to give visible form to mankind’s universal knowledge of nature and history.
Although botany, zoology, and geology were accorded major roles in his collection, dal Pozzo’s paper museum was famous above all for its reproduction of ancient works of art. This part of the collection was exploited by many artists and scholars. The very principle of the Museo cartaceo served as a model for many 18th-century publications on antiquity.