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Winckelmania: Hellenomania between ideal and experience

Harloe, K. (2018) Winckelmania: Hellenomania between ideal and experience. In: Harloe, K., Momigliano, N. and Farnoux, A. (eds.) Hellenomania. British School at Athens - Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies. Taylor and Francis, Abingdon. ISBN 9781138243248

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Abstract/Summary

If Hellenomania was not entirely an invention of the mid-eighteenth century, it certainly took on a particular colour during that period. The Grand Tour and other forms of travel, Enlightened curiosity, the antiquarian and scholarly exploration of non-Christian pasts, and ancien régime artistic patronage, all contributed to Neoclassicism and the Greek Revival. The forms of Hellenomania erected on these foundations exhibit certain paradoxes: focused as it often was on Italy rather than Greece and predetermined in its judgements by literary texts, mid-eighteenth-century encounters with ‘Grecian’ were also frequently characterised by an ardent and ecstatic idealism Diderot satirised as ‘fanatic’. This paper explores some aspects eighteenth-century Hellenomania through the case of Winckelmann and his reception. Though Winckelmann is principally remembered today for having produced a new, comprehensive and historical account of Greek and Roman art and culture in his History of Ancient Art (1764), in the 1760s-70s it was his descriptions of individual objects and sites that caused the greatest stir in northern Europe, as is shown by their early translation into French and English, publication in periodicals, and circulation through correspondence networks. I suggest that these writings provide the template of more widespread, eighteenth-century ‘Hellenomaniac’ experience, and examine the travel narrative of Charles Burney in order to pose questions about the processes of transmission of and initiation into such ‘Hellenomania’.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Classics
ID Code:71772
Publisher:Taylor and Francis

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