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Idols and Museum Pieces

The Nature of Sculpture, its Historiography and Exhibition History 1640-1880

Edited by: Caroline van Eck
The publication of Winckelmann’s Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums in 1764 is considered as the defining moment in the genesis of the modern, scientific study of sculpture. It was a formalist and secular history, concentrating on the statue as a work of art, and studying sculpture in a museum setting, abstracting from its original religious, social or political functions. Other 17th- and 18th-century authors tried to understand those functions and why statues so often excited violent reactions ranging from adoration to abuse. The collection of essays aims to be a first investigation of the questions that arise out of an awareness that the origins of the Western historiography are much more complex than may appear from the perspective of Winckelmann’s vision of the Graeco-Roman tradition.

Author Information

Caroline van Eck, University of Cambridge.
Audience: Art historians, museologists, ethnologists, cultural historians