Bernhard Paul Moll

Bernhard Paul Moll, who assembled the collection, was born in 1697 into the family of a German Protestant pastor near Ansbach. He became a career diplomat and represented several German princes at the imperial court in Vienna. The newly acquired title of nobility, the rank of ambassador, along with an advantageous marriage secured Moll economically enabling him to thus use part of his financial resources to fulfil his collector interests. Like many contemporaries, he focused his attention on maps and graphics which were, like today, the most popular collectible artefacts. Unlike paintings they had the advantage of being relatively inexpensive and available. Vedute in particular were often part of large numbered series which directly encouraged the creation of complete sets of randomly purchased individual pieces. Besides, there was no need to build a gallery for prints – a specially adapted cabinet was enough. Collecting thus became available to a wider range of interested individuals. The motivation of those who created collections of artefacts was varied. Especially in the Baroque era, things often used to represent their owners and became an indicator of their social status. Often, however, and such was most likely the case with Bernhard Paul Moll, the collection reflected the true scientific interest of its founder associated with sound orientation in the map and graphic production of previous centuries as well as, in the case of maps, in their technical, military, and economic context.

Bernhard Paul Moll died on 26th September 1780 in Baden, near Vienna at the age of 83.