Icons of Longevity
Bolle Willum Luxdorph, who lived from 1716-1788, was the first Dane known to have studied the phenomenon of old age. Luxdorph was a high-ranking Danish civil servant, a leader of the Danish Chancellery, as well as a scholar and poet. In the last years of his life, Luxdorph created an art collection of paintings of older people ("long-livers"). The exact date at which Luxdorph began taking an interest in the phenomenon of old age is not known, but it must have happened sometime in the late 1770s. At this point, Luxdorph began systematically collecting data concerning very old people (i.e. persons who had reached the age of 80 and over). This book examines Luxdorph's collection, which has a triple-source value in terms of the history of art, the history of civilization, and the history of science. Both the reconstruction and the availability of the collection hold specific contemporary and general importance for: the illustration of very old men and women, the development of research on ageing, and the associated socio-cultural topics. Moreover, the collection represents an encyclopedic interest, the passion to collect, and the origin of science-orientated collections, as they became characteristic in 18th-century Europe.
Publication Date: 12/31/2010