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08 Nov 2011
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DescriptionReviewsContentsAuthors

Offers the first-ever historical descriptions of the foundation of the "Museo Profano" inside the Vatican in 1761. Using the palace records from the Vatican's Secret Archives, Ruprecht demonstrates that the Vatican museum was the brainchild of J.J. Winckelmann, the so-called father of Art History.


Description

Offers the first-ever historical descriptions of the foundation of the "Museo Profano" inside the Vatican in 1761. Using the palace records from the Vatican's Secret Archives, Ruprecht demonstrates that the Vatican museum was the brainchild of J.J. Winckelmann, the so-called father of Art History.


Reviews

"How was it that the first 'profane' museum, featuring the salacious sculpture of paganism, was established - within the Vatican itself - by the Catholic Church? Ruprecht immersed himself in the Vatican archives and, in a book that reads as an academic detective story, came up with a fascinating answer. He argues that the museum was the brainchild of J. J. Winckelmann, who made it possible by affecting a sea-change in the way the sculpture of antiquity was perceived: no longer as a handmaiden of religion, which had made it suspicious to the Church, but as art. And so the originator of the discipline of art history also turns out to have introduced both the modern conception of art and the institution that still conditions our understanding of it." - Alexander Nehamas, Professor of Philosophy and Edmund N. Carpenter, II Class of 1943 Professor in the Humanities, Princeton University; author of Nietzsche: Life as Literature

"Ruprecht has written a thoroughly original, profoundly insightful, and uniquely compelling book.I can think of no one better equipped to bring the modern world to light in new ways than Ruprecht, whose eye for detail and penetrating analysis is especially illuminating around the topic of religion.The 'secret history' associated with the life of Winckelmann and the world of art in the Vatican is revealed by Ruprecht to be glaringly present in the world around us - not only in public museums, but also public perceptions of the profane, and the sacred." - Gary Laderman, Professor and Chairperson, Department of Religion, Emory University

"Ruprecht leads us on a pilgrimage to the profane side of the Vatican; reexamining the creation of modern art history via ancient Greek relics and papal receipts to reveal the mysteries surrounding Winckelmann's key role in the middle of it all. Part scholar, part detective, Ruprecht moves easily through time periods and scholarly disciplines, asking as many penetrating questions as he uncovers startling answers." - Mike Lippman,Lecturer, Department of Classics, The University of Arizona

"In Winckelmann and the Vatican's First Profane Museum, Louis Ruprecht adds 'historian' and 'archival sleuth' to an already impressive range of scholarly bona fides.His earlier books have always been based on rare and lovely texts, objects, and ideas; here his years doing research at the Vatican Museums with privileged access has done more than bring a 'secret history' to light. Ruprecht's book may be about the early modern separation of classical art into eccentric and incorrect categories of 'sacred' and 'profane,' but his brief is also to explain why we are endlessly fascinated, but also so easily misled, by our notions of religious secrets and private obsessions.And so, what he uncovers - about Johann Winckelmann, about papal politics, about Rome in the eighteenth century, about what mysteries were curated in the recesses of the Vatican - is never less than thrilling, but never what we'd have expected to find. And this is exactly why his book will not only speak to scholars of the arts and humanities; it will also inform and enthrall anyone who loves a true story exactingly, singularly, and wonderfully told." - Lori Anne Ferrell, Professor of Early Modern History and Literature, Chair, Department of English School of Arts and Humanities, Claremont Graduate University
 
"Professor Ruprecht's latest book, on Wincklemann's central role in the formation of the Vatican Museo Profano, is a brilliant, nuanced, and stunning contribution to our understanding of the emergence of public art museums. Much more than that, it animates anew the question of the character of our modernity: the dispersal of what Paul Tillich called matters of ultimate concern away from the frame of religion to value spheres like art and politics. The book will be of high interest to scholars of art history, religious studies, the history of modernity, and Continental philosophy." - Michael Schwartz, Professor of the History and Philosophy of Art, Augusta State University; Co-Founder, Comparative and Continental Philosophy Circle

"This is a story never before told, a story that casts new light both on the history of the museum as a cultural institution and on the decisive role that Winckelmann played in this history. Ruprecht tells the story masterfully." - John Sallis, Boston College

"This is a truly remarkable book. Based on meticulous research in the archives of the Vatican, it has all the suspense of a great detective story. As we follow this gripping account of the career of Winckelmann in the Rome of the eighteenth century, from the moment of his arrival in 1754 to his tragic and ambiguous death in 1768, we become witnesses to a hitherto unconsidered turning point in the consciousness of Europe - a closed religious world becomes public, paganism loses its sinister religious aura to become a religion of art, the museum is born and, with it, the modern sense of the profane: and all this in the Rome of the popes! It is not often that we are introduced with such artistry and with so humane a touch to a revolution of the mind which lies at the root of the modern imagination." - Peter Brown, Rollins Professor of History, Princeton University

"Ruprecht's deep engagement with a palimpsest of records, especially in the Vatican Archives, leads him to an unexpected revelation - the religious roots of public art museums - making this an indispensable volume for anyone in religious studies, art history and theory, museology, or American cultural studies. Ruprecht tells the story of Winckelmann's encounter with the Vatican's vast collection of profane art, disclosing the meanings of the choreography and program of the original Museo Profano as they intertwined with the religious dimensions of Winckelmann's fascination with the beautiful, nude sculptural bodies of Greek Gods." - Richard Carp, Professor and Chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Appalachian State University


Contents

Introduction: Winckelmann's Secret History
'Puzzling Over Periods': On the Difficulty of Locating Winckelmann's Art History Within the History of Ideas
'Foolish, Bold, Perhaps Even Godless and Vile': A Brief Biographical and Bibliographic Background to Winckelmann's Roman Career
'Fantasies of a Still-Lit Lamp': A Brief History of Vatican-Sponsored Museums in Rome
'What Book's In Hand?': Zeroing in on the Vatican's 'Museo Profano'
'I Kiss Him Without Scandal, in Front of All the Saints': How the Profane Was Sanctified, not Sexualized, as 'Beauty'
'This New Kind of Gazing-House': How the Profane Was Sanctified, as 'Art'
'Gods Without Altars, Altars Without Worshipers': How the Profane Was Sanctified, as 'National Treasure'
'The Subtle Grace of Departure': Mourning, Nostalgia and the Image in Winckelmann's Art History
'Palimpsest': Winckelmann, Then and Now
Appendix I: The Published Works of Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768)
Appendix II: An Historical Outline of the Vatican Museums
Appendix III: Excerpt From Clement XIII's Moto Proprio (4 August 1761)
Appendix IV: A Brief Archival Summary of Vatican Palace Construction at the Northern Wing Near the 'Museo Profano' (July 1761-March 1762)
Appendix V: Texts of Winckelmann's Three Vatican Appointments (1763-1764)
Appendix VI: Translation of 'Winckelmann alla Biblioteca Vaticana' by Nello Vian (1976)
Appendix VII: Original List of Artworks from the Armistice of Bologna and the Treaty of Tolentino (1796-1797)
Appendix VII: List of Statues for Appropriation from the Treaty of Tolentino (1797)


Authors

LOUIS A. RUPRECHT, Jr. William M. Suttles Professor of Religious Studies at Georgia State University, USA.