1 of 3
2 of 3
3 of 3
From The Codex Canadensis and the Writings of Louis Nicolas, edited by François-Marc Gagnon and published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2011.
The “curiosity” mentioned here has nothing to do with a kind of mania for the unknown or any form of indiscretion. To be “curious” in the seventeenth century meant to care for something. Curiosity is a form if not of solicitude at least of interest in something, the opposite of indifference about things.
The Abbé François de Marsy defined the curieux en peinture as a “man who collects with discrimination whatever is especially rare in drawings or pictures; these rarities are called curiosities… that is why Mr. Mariette was able to say that the name of Mr. Jubach will be remembered for a long time in curiosity, meaning among the curious.”
This definition of curiosity will also be found in Diderot’s Encyclopédie: “Curieux. Adj. Subst. A curieux, en peinture, is a man who collects drawings, pictures, engravings, marbles, bronzes, medals, vases, etc. This inclination is called curiosity. Not all who are taken by it are connoisseurs; and this is what makes them often ridiculous, as people always are who speak about what they do not understand. However curiosity, this need to possess which is almost never without limits, and often upsets material well-being [la fortune]; & this is why it is dangerous.” In the nineteenth century, the “curious” was called an “amateur,” and today is called a “collector.”