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Winckelmann

Winckelmann

[ving-kuhl-mahn]
Winckelmann, Johann Joachim, 1717-68, German classical archaeologist and historian of ancient art, in which field he was a noted authority. A convert to Roman Catholicism in 1754, he went to Italy the following year. There he spent the rest of his life in study in the Vatican Library and in research in Rome, Florence, and Naples. His chief book was Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums [history of the art of antiquity] (1764). The first great analysis of art written from a historical perspective, the work deals mainly with Roman art. It served as the foundation for classical art history.

See his Writings on Art (ed. by D. Irwin, 1972); biography by W. Leppmann (1970).

(born Dec. 9, 1717, Stendal, Prussia—died June 8, 1768, Trieste, Austria) German archaeologist and art historian. The son of a cobbler, he studied theology and medicine before he discovered Greek art. His essay Reflections on the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks (1755) became a manifesto of the Greek ideal in education and art and was soon translated into several languages. After converting to Roman Catholicism, he moved to Rome (1755) and held important posts in the Vatican. There he wrote History of the Art of Antiquity (1764), which inaugurated the study of art history as a discipline and of archaeology as a humane science. His writings reawakened the popular taste for Classical art and were instrumental in generating the Neoclassical movement in the arts.

Learn more about Winckelmann, Johann (Joachim) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Dec. 9, 1717, Stendal, Prussia—died June 8, 1768, Trieste, Austria) German archaeologist and art historian. The son of a cobbler, he studied theology and medicine before he discovered Greek art. His essay Reflections on the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks (1755) became a manifesto of the Greek ideal in education and art and was soon translated into several languages. After converting to Roman Catholicism, he moved to Rome (1755) and held important posts in the Vatican. There he wrote History of the Art of Antiquity (1764), which inaugurated the study of art history as a discipline and of archaeology as a humane science. His writings reawakened the popular taste for Classical art and were instrumental in generating the Neoclassical movement in the arts.

Learn more about Winckelmann, Johann (Joachim) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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