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Philipp von Stosch (1691–1757) and his Circle: Collecting and Studying of Ancient Engraved Gems, from Antiquarianism to Proto-Archaeology
In this seminar Paweł Gołyźniak will trace and examine Philipp von Stosch’s (1691–1757) collecting, antiquarian and scholarly activities in terms of engraved gems on the basis of unknown pictorial (drawings) and archival sources. The discovery of nearly 2300 unknown gem drawings in the Princes Czartoryski Museum in Krakow gives an opportunity to present him as one of the most instrumental figures of C18th antiquarianism. The seminar will discuss Stosch’s outstanding collection of intaglios and glass gems, and most importantly his scholarly projects; starting from his celebrated book Gemmae antiquae caelatae published in 1724 in Amsterdam, through to his attempts to write a supplement to that study, documentation of his own collection of gems and other European gem cabinets, and, finally, the virtually unknown project Histoire universaille, meant to reflect the history, mythologies and customs of the ancient Egyptians, Etruscans, Greeks and Romans, combined with a reconstruction of the history of glyptic art.

For all his enterprises Stosch commissioned large quantities of drawings, which were produced in a truly archaeological vein with attention paid to such issues as material, form, right proportions, state of preservation, provenance etc. of the reproduced gems. Often the gems received extensive commentaries explaining their iconography and providing analogies in sculpture, reliefs, wall paintings and coins. Relevant passages in ancient literary sources were also referenced. The study of Stosch’s scholarly activities considerably advances our understanding of the emergence of archaeology as a scientific discipline. The discovered pictorial documentation provokes us to hypothesise that Stosch, his collecting and scholarly enterprises greatly inspired and influenced Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768) in writing his first synthesis of ancient art (Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums), published in 1764.

Apr 25, 2022 05:30 PM in London

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