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Forming and Displaying a Collection in the Age of the Enlightenment: The Case of Esprit Calvet

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the collecting history of one of the leading Republicans of Letters in the French Midi in the second half of the eighteenth century - Esprit Calvet. His mini-Republic was formed by a group of thirty-two regular correspondents, never more than seventeen at a time, who were a mix of naturalists and antiquarians living on either side of the Rhône valley between Lyon and Marseille. Calvet's antiquities' collection consisted of 4,000 items. It was Calvet's coin collection that made him a minor celebrity in the Republic of Letters. Calvet's natural history collection was equally hidden away at the end of his life. The Musée Calvet's antiquities collection is now housed in Avignon's former Jesuit chapel. Calvet left to Avignon his collections and his fortune to create a centre of learning for public use.

Keywords: antiquities' collection; Avignon; coin collection; Esprit Calvet; natural history collection; Republic of Letters



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